This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol5-6", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
This common marsh plant is known to us from its present distribution alone, which covers the North Temperate Zone in Europe, N. Africa, N. and W. Asia, Himalayas, N. America. In Great Britain it is found everywhere, except in Berwick, as far north as the Shet lands, and up to 2400 ft. in the Highlands, being a native of Ireland and the Channel Islands.
Photo. C.R. Mapp - The Habitat of the Common Jointed Rush (Juncus articulatus, L. = J. lamprocarpus, Ehrh.)
The Common Jointed Rush is a semi-aquatic plant which grows near water, either in wet places, such as ditches, or by the side of brooks and rivers. It is also to be found on the margins of lakes and pools. But a more constant and certain habitat perhaps is marsh land where there is a continuous humid atmosphere. A favourite spot is a mountain bog, where it grows profusely in the streaming moisture of the mountain-side.
This is a tall, erect, slender, and graceful plant, the stem flattened lengthwise. The leaves are jointed, hollow, with septate divisions internally, the pith not being continuous.
The flowers are apetalous, without a corolla, borne in a much-branched panicle, which is erect, forked, the branches long, and flowers 4-8, clustered, and suberect. The 6 perianth segments are not so long as the shining erect capsule (hence the second (Greek) name), which is beaked and dark-brown. The inner segments are blunt. There are 6 stamens. The capsule is 3-chambered, and opens by 3 valves, alternate with the walls. The pericarp has woody layers which contract.
The stem is 2 ft. high. The flowers open in June, July, and August. It is a perennial plant, propagated by seeds.
Jointed Rush is proterogynous, and pollinated by the wind, like all rushes. There are 6-12 flowers, with 6 stamens. Each flower lasts a day. It is female in the morning, and later hermaphrodite.
The capsule contains many seeds, splitting by 3 valves when ripe, and letting the small seeds fall around the parent plant or be dispersed by the wind.
It is attacked by a fungus, Entorrhiza cypericola; several Homop-tera, Liburnia quadrimaculata, L. reyi, L. lepida, and Cicadula fascii-frons; Lepidoptera, Bactra lanceolata, Argyrolepia baremanniana; Coleophora caespitella.
The older specific name refers to the jointed stem. Jointed Rush is called Spart, Closs Spart, Strit. The name Rish is an early variant, and is found in Percy's Reliques:
"All the wyves of Tottenham Came to see that syzt With wyspes, and kexis, and ryschys there lyzt".
In Cornwall Rish means a list or tally. "I'll begin a new rish" is the same as "I'll turn over a new leaf".
There is a superstition that they turn into horses as soon as you bestride them. The following is a cure for thrush in Devonshire. Three rushes are taken from any running stream, passed separately through the mouth of the infant, and then thrown back into the water. As the current bears them away, so it is believed will the thrush leave the child.
Essential Specific Characters: 306. Juncus articulatus, L. - Stem erect, glabrous, compressed, leaves jointed within, hollow, flowers in terminal clusters, 4-8, inner perianth segments blunt.