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Compact Rush

Juncus conglomeratus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Juncaceae (Rush)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Bogs, fens, fields, floodplains, gardens, grassland, marshes, meadows, moorland, mountains, ponds, roadsides, swamps, water, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Brown, 6 petals
Tight clusters of tiny dark brown flowers, one cluster per stem near to the top.
A capsule which contains at least 3 seeds.
Tussock-forming and overwintering. Very linear, wire-like leaves. Hollow, green, erect leaves, all of which are borne at ground level.
Other Names:
Common Rush.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Juncus conglomeratus, also known as compact rush or cluster rush, is a species of rush that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a perennial herb that typically grows in wet, marshy areas and is known for its dense, tufted clusters of green stems. It can be used as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscaping, as well as in wetland restoration projects.


Compact Rush, scientifically known as Juncus conglomeratus, is a perennial plant species native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is a part of the Juncaceae family, which includes around 400 species of rush-like plants. Compact Rush is a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers due to its low maintenance requirements, attractive appearance, and versatility in various soil types.

Appearance and Characteristics

The leaves of Compact Rush are narrow and grass-like, with a deep green color, and it forms a dense clump-like structure. The plant blooms in summer, producing small, spherical flower clusters that are a light green to straw-colored. The flowers give way to seed capsules that mature in the fall.

Habitat and Growing Conditions

Compact Rush prefers to grow in moist, well-drained soils, but it is also known to grow in drier conditions. The plant can tolerate a range of soil types, including clay, loam, and sand, and is often found in wet meadows, marshes, and along riverbanks. It can also grow in full sun or partial shade, making it a versatile addition to any landscape.

Garden and Landscaping Uses

Compact Rush is an excellent choice for those who want to add a unique and attractive plant to their garden or landscape. It is often used as an edging plant, as its dense clumps and narrow leaves make for a neat border. The plant also works well in mixed plantings, providing a contrasting texture and color to other plants.

In addition to its ornamental value, Compact Rush is also beneficial for erosion control and is often used in wetland restoration projects. The plant's deep roots help to stabilize soil, preventing erosion and runoff, while its ability to tolerate a range of soil types makes it ideal for planting in wet areas.

Growing and Maintenance

Compact Rush is a low maintenance plant, requiring little care beyond occasional watering and fertilizing. The plant does not need to be pruned, and its natural clumping habit helps to prevent weed growth. It is also relatively pest and disease-resistant, making it an excellent choice for those who want a hardy and attractive plant.

Ecological Importance

Compact Rush plays an important role in wetland ecosystems, providing habitat and food for a variety of wildlife species. The plant's seeds and foliage are eaten by waterfowl, while its dense clumps provide cover and nesting sites for small mammals and birds. In addition, Compact Rush helps to improve water quality by filtering pollutants and trapping sediment.


Compact Rush can be propagated from seed or by dividing mature clumps. Seeds should be sown in late winter or early spring, and the plants will generally germinate within two to four weeks. To divide a mature clump, gently dig up the plant and carefully separate it into smaller sections, each with its own set of roots. These can then be replanted in a new location.


There are several different varieties of Juncus conglomeratus available, each with its own unique characteristics. One popular variety is Juncus conglomeratus 'Compactus', which is a smaller and more compact form of the plant. Another variety is Juncus conglomeratus 'Golden Arrow', which has yellow-green foliage that provides a striking contrast to other plants in the garden.

Medicinal Uses

In traditional medicine, Compact Rush has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including skin conditions, digestive issues, and respiratory problems. The plant contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including flavonoids and tannins, which are thought to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. While more research is needed to confirm these potential health benefits, Compact Rush remains a popular herbal remedy in some parts of the world.

Cultural Significance

In some cultures, Compact Rush has cultural and historical significance. In Ireland, for example, the plant is known as "Irish rush" and was traditionally used to weave baskets, mats, and other household items. In some parts of Scotland, the plant was used to create traditional musical instruments such as pipes and drums.

Landscaping Tips

If you're considering using Compact Rush in your garden or landscape, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Plant Compact Rush in a location that receives full sun or partial shade.
  • The plant prefers moist, well-drained soil, but can tolerate a range of soil types.
  • Water the plant regularly, especially during hot and dry weather.
  • Fertilize the plant with a general-purpose fertilizer in the spring and summer.
  • To prevent the plant from becoming invasive, be sure to remove any seed heads before they mature and spread.

Invasive Potential

While Compact Rush is generally considered a low-maintenance and beneficial plant, it does have the potential to become invasive in some areas. In regions with wetland habitats, the plant can spread rapidly and outcompete native species, leading to ecological imbalances. It is important to be aware of the plant's potential invasive nature and to plant it responsibly in appropriate locations.

In conclusion, Compact Rush is a fascinating and versatile plant that offers a range of benefits for gardeners, landscapers, and the environment. Whether you're looking for an ornamental addition to your garden or a practical solution for erosion control, this plant is a great choice. With proper care and attention, Compact Rush can provide years of beauty and ecological benefits.

Some Facts about Compact Rush

  • Compact Rush is native to Europe and parts of Asia, but has been introduced to other regions of the world as an ornamental and beneficial plant.
  • The plant is often found in wetland areas such as marshes, swamps, and bogs, where it thrives in wet soil and full sun or partial shade.
  • The stems of Compact Rush are round and smooth, and can grow up to 60 centimeters (about 2 feet) in height.
  • The leaves of the plant are narrow and pointed, and are a bright green color.
  • Compact Rush is a hardy and resilient plant that can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, including drought, flooding, and soil salinity.
  • The plant is also an important food source for a variety of insect species, including the larvae of several butterfly and moth species.
  • In addition to its ecological benefits, Compact Rush is a popular choice for landscaping and erosion control due to its ability to form dense clumps and prevent soil erosion.
  • The plant's seeds are dispersed by water and wind, and can remain viable in the soil for several years.
  • Compact Rush is not toxic to humans or animals, and is considered safe for use in a variety of applications.

In summary, Compact Rush is a fascinating and versatile plant that offers a range of benefits for the environment, wildlife, and humans. Whether you're looking to create a wetland habitat or add an attractive and low-maintenance plant to your garden, Compact Rush is a great choice. With its adaptability and resilience, it is sure to thrive in a variety of settings and provide years of beauty and ecological benefits.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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