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Alpine Rush

Juncus alpinoarticulatus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Juncaceae (Rush)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Bogs, heathland, marshes, meadows, mountains, waterside, wetland.

Brown, 6 petals
Flowerheads are arranged inside branched clusters. There are between 5 and 25 flowerheads per cluster and each flowerhead contains up to 10 stalkless flowers. Flowerheads measure up to 6mm across. 6 stamens. Alpine Rush has darker flowers than the similar looking Sharp-flowered Rush (Juncus acutiflorus), Blunt-flowered Rush (Juncus subnodulosus) and Jointed Rush (Juncus articulatus).
A 3-parted capsule, up to 3.5cm long. Numerous dark brown seeds are contained within the fruit. The seeds are egg-shaped and wrinkly, tapering to a point.
Long, linear, dark green, wire-like leaves. Perennial.
Other Names:
Northern Green Rush.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Juncus alpinoarticulatus, also known as alpine rush, is a species of rush that is native to the arctic and alpine regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. It is a perennial plant that forms dense tufts of thin, stiff, dark green leaves. It produces brownish-black seed heads in the summer. This plant can be found in wet meadows, bogs, and on the shores of lakes and rivers. It is tolerant of cold and drought, and can be used in landscaping in cold climates. It is also known to be a good indicator of wetland health.


Alpine Rush, scientifically known as Juncus alpinoarticulatus, is a hardy and beautiful perennial plant that is native to high-altitude regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. This species of rush has adapted to survive in harsh environments, making it an excellent addition to gardens that experience extreme weather conditions.


The Alpine Rush grows in clumps and typically reaches a height of around 20 cm. It has slender, cylindrical stems that are slightly curved and can vary in color from dark green to brown. The stems are jointed and have a pithy core, which helps to make them resilient to damage from strong winds and heavy snow.

The leaves of the Alpine Rush are very small and needle-like, and they grow from the base of the stem. The plant produces small, inconspicuous flowers that are brown in color and appear in late spring or early summer. The flowers are followed by seed capsules that are also brown and contain numerous tiny seeds.

Growing Conditions

Alpine Rush is an incredibly hardy plant that can tolerate extreme cold, heat, and drought. It thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers moist to wet soil conditions. This rush species can grow in a range of soil types, including loamy, sandy, and clay soils, making it a versatile addition to any garden.

Alpine Rush is often found growing in mountain meadows, rocky outcroppings, and along streams and rivers. It is a great choice for planting in areas that are difficult to access or where other plants struggle to grow.

Landscaping Uses

Alpine Rush is an excellent plant for rock gardens, alpine gardens, and other naturalistic landscapes. Its compact size and unique appearance make it an attractive addition to any garden. It can also be used as a groundcover or for erosion control on slopes and banks.

In addition to its aesthetic value, Alpine Rush has several ecological benefits. Its dense clumps provide cover for small animals and insects, and its seeds are a food source for many bird species. Its deep roots help to stabilize soil, prevent erosion, and improve soil structure.


Alpine Rush is a low-maintenance plant that requires minimal care once established. It is tolerant of drought and can survive without regular watering, making it an excellent choice for xeriscaping. However, it does appreciate occasional watering during extended dry periods.

The plant can be cut back in the fall to tidy up its appearance and encourage new growth in the spring. Propagation can be done by dividing the clumps in early spring or by planting seeds in the fall.

In conclusion, Alpine Rush, Juncus alpinoarticulatus, is a beautiful and resilient plant that is well-suited for a variety of garden and landscaping applications. Its unique appearance and ecological benefits make it a great choice for gardeners looking for a hardy and low-maintenance plant that can withstand extreme weather conditions.

More Information

One of the interesting characteristics of Alpine Rush is its adaptability to high altitude and harsh weather conditions. This is due to its ability to store nutrients in its roots and its pithy stems which help it to survive in dry and rocky soils.

Alpine Rush is also known for its medicinal properties. It has been traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments including respiratory and digestive problems, headaches, and menstrual cramps. In modern times, research has shown that Alpine Rush contains compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may explain its traditional use for treating various health issues.

This rush species is also a popular plant for water gardens, as it can grow well in standing water, adding a unique element to the landscape. Its ability to stabilize soil makes it a good choice for shoreline plantings and wetland restoration projects.

In terms of its wildlife value, Alpine Rush provides cover and nesting sites for a variety of bird species, including sparrows, finches, and warblers. The seeds of the plant are a food source for birds, and the stems and leaves provide habitat for small animals and insects.

In terms of its cultural significance, Alpine Rush has been used in traditional crafts such as basketry, weaving, and rope-making. The tough, flexible stems of the plant are ideal for these purposes.

One of the interesting things about Alpine Rush is its ability to form clumps and create a natural carpet-like effect in a garden. This feature makes it a popular choice for rock gardens, alpine gardens, and other naturalistic landscapes. When planted in groups, Alpine Rush can create a visually striking effect, adding texture and interest to a garden.

Another interesting aspect of Alpine Rush is its ability to help prevent soil erosion. Its deep roots help to anchor the soil, preventing it from washing away during heavy rains. This is an important characteristic for gardeners who live in areas with steep slopes or loose soil.

Alpine Rush can also be used as a plant for green roofs, which are becoming increasingly popular in urban areas. The tough and resilient nature of this plant make it an excellent choice for green roofs, as it can withstand harsh weather conditions and drought, while adding a natural element to the urban landscape.

Another benefit of Alpine Rush is that it is a great plant for attracting pollinators to the garden. Its small flowers provide a valuable source of nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.

Alpine Rush is a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a plant that is easy to grow and maintain. Its low maintenance requirements, drought tolerance, and ability to grow in a range of soil types make it a great choice for novice and experienced gardeners alike.

Alpine Rush is an excellent choice for gardeners who are looking for a plant that is easy to propagate. It can be propagated by dividing the clumps in the spring or fall, or by sowing the seeds in the fall. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who want to increase the number of plants in their garden without having to spend a lot of money on new plants.

One interesting fact about Alpine Rush is that it is one of the few plants that can survive in the extreme environments of the Arctic tundra. It is able to grow in areas where temperatures can drop to -30°C (-22°F) and where the soil is permanently frozen. This is due to its unique ability to store nutrients in its roots and stems, allowing it to survive in harsh conditions.

Alpine Rush has also been used in traditional medicine by indigenous peoples around the world. For example, the Inuit people of the Arctic have traditionally used the plant to treat a variety of ailments, including colds, coughs, and sore throats.

Finally, Alpine Rush is a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a plant that is not invasive. While it can spread by rhizomes, it is not aggressive and can be easily controlled. This is an important consideration for gardeners who want to plant a species that will not take over their garden or spread to nearby areas.

In conclusion, Alpine Rush is a valuable and adaptable plant that has a lot to offer to gardeners, landscapers, and nature enthusiasts. Its unique appearance, low maintenance requirements, ecological and cultural benefits, adaptability to harsh weather conditions, and non-invasive nature make it a great choice for a wide range of garden and landscape applications.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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