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Bulbous Rush

Juncus bulbosus

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Juncaceae (Rush)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Bogs, ditches, fens, heathland, marshes, riversides, swamps, water, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Variable in colour, 6 petals
A very variable plant. Forked clusters of green or brown flowers. Bulbous Rush has numerous needle-like leaf blades which emerge from the flowers.
Brown and 3-lobed.
Narrow, linear leaves, often grass-like in appearance. Sometimes jointed and sometimes flattened. Bulbous Rush sometimes appear in water where it grows to 1 metre tall. The stems are often bronze-coloured when where it grows in water. Perennial.
Other Names:
Lesser Jointed Rush.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Juncus bulbosus, commonly known as bulbous rush, is a perennial herb in the Juncaceae family. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North America, and is commonly found in wetland habitats such as marshes, bogs, and along the edges of ponds and streams. The plant has triangular stems with long, narrow leaves and small, brownish flowers that grow in clusters. The plant has a distinct bulb-like structure at the base of its stem, from which it gets its name. It is often used in landscaping and horticulture as an ornamental plant. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is also used as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory agent.


Bulbous Rush, also known as Juncus bulbosus, is a perennial herb that is native to Europe and parts of Asia. It is a member of the Juncaceae family, which includes other species of rush and grass-like plants. Bulbous Rush is a hardy plant that is adapted to a variety of growing conditions, making it a versatile addition to many gardens and landscapes.

Physical Characteristics

Bulbous Rush has a unique appearance, with a tall, cylindrical stem that can grow up to 60 cm (2 feet) in height. The stem is covered in a series of green or brown sheaths, which give it a distinctive, ribbed appearance. At the base of the stem, the plant produces a round, bulb-like structure, which gives the plant its name. The bulb is covered in a brown, papery layer, and is used by the plant to store nutrients and water.

The leaves of Bulbous Rush are long, thin, and pointed, and they grow in a clump at the base of the stem. The leaves are typically a blue-green color, and they can grow up to 30 cm (1 foot) in length. The plant produces small, brown flowers in the summer, which are arranged in clusters at the top of the stem.

Habitat and Growing Conditions

Bulbous Rush is adapted to a variety of growing conditions, and can be found in a range of habitats across Europe and Asia. It is commonly found in wetlands, marshes, and along the banks of streams and rivers. It can also be found in drier habitats, such as heathlands and meadows.

The plant prefers moist, nutrient-rich soils, but it can also tolerate drier conditions. It is a hardy plant that can withstand cold temperatures and frost, making it an ideal plant for gardeners in colder climates.

Uses and Benefits

Bulbous Rush has a number of uses and benefits. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, fever, and diarrhea. The plant contains a number of compounds that are believed to have medicinal properties, including flavonoids, tannins, and saponins.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Bulbous Rush has a number of practical applications. The plant is often used for erosion control, as its fibrous root system can help stabilize soils and prevent erosion. It is also used as a decorative plant in gardens and landscapes, thanks to its unique appearance.

Overall, Bulbous Rush is a hardy and versatile plant that has a number of uses and benefits. Whether you are looking for a decorative plant for your garden, or a plant that can help stabilize soils and prevent erosion, Bulbous Rush is a great choice. With its unique appearance and adaptability to a range of growing conditions, it is a plant that is sure to thrive in a variety of settings.

Propagation and Care

Bulbous Rush is a relatively easy plant to propagate and care for. The plant can be grown from seed or by dividing the bulbs in the spring. When planting Bulbous Rush, it is important to choose a location with well-drained soil that receives full sun or partial shade.

The plant prefers consistently moist soil, so it is important to water it regularly, particularly during dry periods. However, Bulbous Rush can tolerate some degree of drought, so it is important not to overwater the plant.

In terms of maintenance, Bulbous Rush is a relatively low-maintenance plant. It does not require regular pruning, although dead or damaged leaves can be removed as needed. The plant is generally disease and pest resistant, although it can be susceptible to fungal diseases in damp conditions.

Ecological Significance

Bulbous Rush is an important plant in many wetland and marsh habitats, where it provides habitat and food for a variety of wildlife. The plant's fibrous root system helps stabilize soils and prevent erosion, which is important in these habitats.

In addition, Bulbous Rush is a host plant for a variety of insect species, including the Bulbous Rush Fly and the Bulbous Rush Moth. These insects lay their eggs on the plant, and the resulting larvae feed on the leaves and stems.

Overall, Bulbous Rush is an important plant in many ecosystems, and its unique appearance and adaptability make it a valuable addition to gardens and landscapes. Whether you are interested in the plant's medicinal properties, its ecological significance, or its decorative value, Bulbous Rush is a plant that is sure to make an impact.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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