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Fen Woodrush

Luzula pallescens

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Juncaceae (Rush)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Bogs, fens, gardens, riverbanks, riversides, wasteland, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Brown, 6 petals
Pale yellowish-brown flowers which appear in clusters.
Brown, globular nutlets.
A perennial, grass-like plant with yellowish-green, linear, untoothed leaves. The basal leaves are 2 or 3cm wide.
Other Names:
Pale Woodrush.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Luzula pallescens, commonly known as pale woodrush, is a species of perennial herb in the Juncaceae family. It is native to North America, typically found in damp, shady areas such as woods, bogs, and along streams and rivers. It has small, greenish-brown flowers that bloom in the spring and summer and glossy, dark green leaves. It is a small plant that can grow up to 30 cm tall and is known for its basal leaves that are arranged in a rosette. It is also used as an ornamental plant in gardens and it is known for its ability to thrive in damp and shady areas. It is also used in traditional medicine, but there is not enough scientific evidence to support its medicinal properties. The plant is named for the pale appearance of its leaves and stems, which give it a resemblance to other woodrush species.


Fen Woodrush (Luzula pallescens) is a species of flowering plant in the juncus family (Juncaceae). It is a low-growing herbaceous plant that is native to damp or wet habitats, such as fens, bogs, and wet meadows, throughout much of Europe and Asia. Fen Woodrush is a hardy, clump-forming plant that grows in dense tufts, and its leaves are long, narrow, and dark green.

The plant produces spikes of small, creamy-white flowers in late spring to early summer, which are followed by seedheads that persist well into autumn. Fen Woodrush is an attractive plant that adds texture and interest to a garden, and it is well suited to planting in damp soils, at the margins of ponds or streams, or in areas where rainwater runoff collects.

In addition to its ornamental value, Fen Woodrush is also an important plant for wildlife, providing habitat and food for a wide range of species, including insects, birds, and small mammals. The seeds of Fen Woodrush are a source of food for seed-eating birds such as goldfinches, while its dense tufts provide shelter and nesting sites for birds such as warblers.

Fen Woodrush is a tough, adaptable plant that is easy to care for and maintain, making it a good choice for gardeners who want to add interest to a damp corner of their garden, or for those who want to create a wildlife-friendly garden. It is relatively drought tolerant, but will grow best in damp soils, and it is resistant to damage from deer and rabbits.

Fen Woodrush is a beautiful and valuable plant for the garden, and it is an important species for wildlife. Its ability to thrive in damp soils, combined with its attractive appearance, make it a versatile plant that is well worth considering for any garden.

Fen Woodrush is not only an attractive plant but it is also an important part of the ecosystem. Its rhizomes and roots help to stabilize soil, reducing erosion and promoting healthy plant growth. In addition, the plant's ability to absorb and retain moisture makes it a useful plant for managing water levels and reducing the risk of flooding in wetland areas.

Fen Woodrush is a versatile plant that can be used in a range of garden styles, from naturalistic and woodland gardens to more formal and structured gardens. In a naturalistic garden, it can be grown in large drifts, alongside other moisture-loving plants such as marsh marigold, iris, and sedges. In a more formal garden, it can be used to edge a water feature, or planted in pots and containers to add interest to a patio or deck.

Fen Woodrush is easy to propagate, and it can be divided in spring or autumn. It can also be grown from seed, although it can take several years for the seedlings to mature and produce flowers. Once established, Fen Woodrush is a long-lived plant that will continue to spread and increase in size over time.

Fen Woodrush is an attractive and versatile plant that offers a range of benefits to both gardeners and the environment. Its adaptability and ease of care, combined with its ornamental value and importance to wildlife, make it a valuable addition to any garden, particularly those with damp or wet areas.

Fen Woodrush is a hardy and low-maintenance plant that requires very little care once established. It can be grown in full sun to partial shade and prefers moist, well-drained soils. The plant is drought tolerant and can withstand periods of dryness, but it will grow best in damp or wet soils.

In terms of maintenance, Fen Woodrush is a slow-growing plant that will not require regular division or pruning. However, it is a good idea to remove any yellow or dead leaves in the autumn to help maintain the plant's appearance.

Another important consideration when growing Fen Woodrush is that it is a wetland species, and it is therefore important to ensure that the soil in which it is grown remains moist and does not dry out. In dry conditions, the plant may go dormant and will not produce flowers. Gardeners who live in areas with hot, dry summers may need to water their Fen Woodrush regularly to ensure that it remains healthy and produces flowers.

Finally, it is worth noting that Fen Woodrush is a wildlife-friendly plant and is therefore a good choice for gardeners who are interested in creating a garden that is both attractive and beneficial to wildlife. The plant's spikes of small, creamy-white flowers provide a source of nectar for bees and other insects, while its dense tufts provide shelter and nesting sites for birds.

In conclusion, Fen Woodrush is a low-maintenance and versatile plant that is ideal for gardeners who want to add interest to a damp or wet area of their garden, or for those who want to create a wildlife-friendly garden. With its attractive appearance and hardiness, it is a valuable addition to any garden, and its ease of care makes it a great choice for gardeners of all levels of experience.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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