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Rushes (Juncus spp.)
Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Rushes (Juncus spp.)
Juncus in low desert

General: Rushes (Juncus spp.) are grass-like plants that mostly grow in wetlands and usually grow knee-high to waist-high, with leaves that are round in cross-section. Several species of rush occur around Las Vegas, and while some can be recognized, it is sufficient for the casual observer to recognize rushes in contrast to grasses (e.g., Stipa and Poa spp.) and sedges (e.g., Scirpus spp.):

   Sedge stems have edges,
   Rush stems are round,
   And Grasses have leaves all the way to the ground.

Rushes mostly occur in wetlands, along washes and rivers, and in other wet areas in the Lower Sonoran (Creosote-Bursage Flats), Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland), and Transition (Yellow Pine Forest) life zones. However, they also occur at higher elevations, including the Canadian (Pine-Fir Forest), Hudsonian (Bristlecone Forest), and even the Arctic (Alpine Tundra) life zones.

Rushes (Juncus spp.)
Juncus in high mountains

Family: Rush (Juncaceae).

Other Names: Needlegrass (most species have a common name).

Plant Form: Annual and perennial herbs; grass-like.

Height: Usually knee- to waist-high.

Stems: Usually round (sometimes flat).

Rushes (Juncus spp.)

Leaves: Emerge from the base; blade round and hollow.

Flowers: Blooms spring to fall. Inflorescence usually a cluster of flowers emerging from the tip of the leaf or from the side of the leaf near the tip. Individual flowers small and inconspicuous.

Seeds: Many in a capsule.

Rushes (Juncus spp.)

Habitat: Usually pond edges, stream edges, riverbanks, and other wet areas. At higher elevations, found in many habitats, including the summits of the highest peaks.

Elevation: From springs on the desert floor to the tops of the highest peaks (12,000 feet in southern Nevada).

Distribution: Worldwide.

Comments: There are 9 genera and 325 species in the Rush family, with some 225 species in genus Juncus alone. They mostly all look alike, although some specialists can tell them apart by details of the inflorescence and seeds. For casual observers, it is sufficient to recognize Rushes in contrast to Grasses and Sedges: Sedges have edges, Rushes are round, and Grasses have leaves all the way to the ground.

Rushes (Juncus spp.)
Flowers emerging from the side of the leaf near the tip
Rushes (Juncus spp.)1
Seedhead of another species
Rushes (Juncus spp.)
Large seedheads
Rushes (Juncus spp.)
Open seedhead
Rushes (Juncus spp.)
Rushes along a quiet pool of water
Rushes (Juncus spp.)
Small rush growing in a damp canyon
Rushes (Juncus spp.) more to come ...

All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 100617

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