What is Luzula?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2019
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Luzula, more commonly known as wood-rush, is a plant genus with 80 known species. The species in this genus are flowering plants from the family of Juncaceae, and they are commonly found in the temperate regions of Asia and Europe. Luzula plants are perennial and grow from 8 inches to 2.5 feet (20 to 80 cm) tall, depending on the species. These plants are the preferred source of food of the larvae of some butterflies. Plants in the Luzula genus thrive in many kinds of soil, such as well-drained sand, loam, or heavy clay; however, they prefer damp soils with an acidic or chalky alkaline pH balance.

Out of all the species in this genus, only two are commonly found in the nursery trade. Both of these species are primarily used as ground cover for the shaded areas in the garden. Wood-rushes are one of the most undemanding perennials, and this is the reason why they are often chosen to create a shaded border in gardens.


One type of Luzula is the snowy wood-rush or Luzula nivea. It is known to reach a height of 2 feet (60 cm) and a width of up to 18 inches (45 cm). The snowy wood-rush’s leaves are flat, long, and usually various shades of green, with white crisscrossing hairs along the edges. Another characteristic exclusive to the snowy wood-rush are the fluffy white flowers that are on long and arching stems that rise gracefully above the basal leaves of the grass. These blossoms occur in late spring to summer, resembling snow; thus the name snowy wood-rush.

L. nivea is believed to have originated from the mountains of the Pyrenees and the Alps. Much like any kind of wood-rush, the snowy wood-rush thrives in many soils and prefers the shade. It is recommended to give each wnowy wood-rush at least 1 foot (0.3 m) of space from one another.

Also known as the greater wood rush, Luzula sylvatica is an ornamental grass used for ground cover in the shady areas of gardens. Much like the snowy wood-rush, L. sylvatica can live in dry soil, but it thrives in damp soil. It can grow up to 16 inches (40 cm) in height and produces flowers from May through July. This specie of Luzula is native to the stream banks and open woodlands of the United Kingdom, as well as central and southern Europe. When planting the greater wood-rush, it is recommended that they are planted at least 16 inches (40 cm) apart.


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