What is Juncus Effusus?

Deborah Walker

Juncus effusus is a perennial species of rush in the Juncaceae family. It grows in clumps near bodies of water. Juncus effusus is used in herbal and homeopathic formulations to treat a variety of digestive, urinary, and respiratory conditions. In addition, this species is important to wildlife, in commercial ventures, and for the ecology. It is a hardy, long-lived plant that is not susceptible to many diseases or pests.

Herbalists might use the pith of the Juncus effuses to treat a sore throat.
Herbalists might use the pith of the Juncus effuses to treat a sore throat.

This wetland plant, also known as soft rush, common rush, or candle rush, is found throughout the world growing in or near marshes, ditches, and other areas where water is plentiful and the temperature does not drop below -38° Fahrenheit (-38.8° Celsius). A mature Juncus effusus plant's full height ranges from 2 to 5 feet (0.6-1.5 meters). It prefers acidic soil and full sun to partial shade. During the summer, this plant bears 30-100 small, green-brown flowers. Its foliage is dark, chocolate brown.

Porcupines use the Juncus Effusus for shelter and food.
Porcupines use the Juncus Effusus for shelter and food.

Medicinally, diluted Juncus effusus is used in homeopathy to treat genitourinary problems, including infections, painful urination, straining, and an inability to urinate. The remedy is also given to people with with hemorrhoids who also have asthma-like symptoms, as well as those with excessive gas and arthritis. The medicine is administered as a tincture, or as a liquid with an alcoholic base, in the first potency, 1x.

Herbalists use the pith, or soft, spongy center part of the stem of the Juncus effusus plant, without diluting it. It can be prescribed as a treatment for sore throats, swelling, jaundice, and urinary tract infections. In addition, the pith contains lithontripic properties which break down kidney or bladder stones. Juncus effusus may also be used as an herbal sedative, laxative, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and general purifier.

Songbirds, porcupine, gophers, muskrat, and rabbits use Juncus effusus for shelter and food. Stands of these rushes make excellent habitat and spawning areas for amphibians and fish. It is also used in the construction of Japanese tatami mats, in dried flower arrangements, thatching, and basket making. The shoots can be eaten raw, roasted, or boiled. One should not consume too much of this plant at one sitting because it may have a cumulative toxic effect.

Juncus effusus is a hardy plant that is quite resistant to disease, pests, and fire. It can tolerate periods of flooding and drought. The plant's ability to grow in very wet areas makes it useful in conservation efforts to stabilize ground erosion due to run off. Gardeners can propagate this rush by sowing seed in a cold frame at the beginning of spring or by dividing the rhizomes in late fall. On their own, plants in this genus are slow to spread. In some areas, once these plants are established, they may be considered invasive.

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