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 is a woodland arctic type which is known to us only from its present distribution in N. Temperate and Arctic Europe (except Greece) and Russia. In Great Britain it is found in every county except Suffolk and Hunts, both lowland districts; as far north as the Shetlands, up to 2300 ft. in the Highlands, and in Ireland and the Channel Islands.
The Wood Rush, that is to say, here, the largest of the species, is a typical woodland plant, forming a definite feature in certain types of wood, oak woods, growing in the shade, which it loves more than all the other wood rushes, and forming big clumps over a wide area, but it also grows on heaths.
This plant is a tall, graceful wood rush with a grass-like habit. The leaves are clothed and fringed with hairs, which spring from the sides of the long, flat leaves, which taper to a graceful point, and are mainly radical. They are channelled. The few stem-leaves towards the top of the stem are short, drooping, and bract-like.
The flowers are in clusters of three in a densely compound cyme, with long flower-stalks; the perianth-segments are awned or bristle-like and as long as the capsule, with small anther-stalks. The capsule is tuberculate, beaked, egg-shaped, acute, and 3-seeded.
The stem towers gracefully to a height of 18 in. Flowers may be found in May. The plant is a perennial, propagated by seeds, and is suited to plantation in woods and shrubberies.
As in the case of the Rushes the flowers are pollinated by the wind, and self-pollination is rendered impossible as the stigma matures first, this condition lasting 4-5 days. The perianth is only partly open, and then expands for a few hours. The flowers are in clusters of 3-4, pale, like Juncoides generally, but the anthers are longer than the anther-stalks.
Photo. Flatters & Garnett - Great Wood Rush (Luzula sylvatica, Gaud.)
The capsule splits open, allowing the seeds to fall around the parent plant, which is dispersed by its own agency.
The Great Wood Rush is a humus-loving plant, and confined to a humus soil.
The leaves are attacked by a cluster-cup fungus, Puccinia oblongata.
Luzula, Smith, is from the Latin luceo, I shine, from the shining leaves and fruits (it was spelt Luciola at first); sylvatica refers to the woodland habitat.
Wood Rush is called Wood Grass, Shadow Grass, Wood Blades.
Essential Specific Characters: 307. Luzula sylvatica, Gaud. - Rhizome woody, stem tall, leaves radical, lanceolate, hairy, flowers 3, in a compound cymose panicle.