Small-flowered Wood Rush
Juncaceae (Rush Family)
General - perennial from spreading rhizomes; stems single or in small tufts, usually 30 - 60 cm tall; basal sheaths chestnut or purplish brown.
Leaves - most at stem base, 3 - 6 on stem, 4 - 10 mm wide, flat, sometimes with long, white hairs along edges.
Flower Cluster - open, loosely branching, cluster of small groups of flowers nodding on long, slender stalks; 6 flower scales, brown, pointed, 1.8 - 2.5 mm long; bracts shorter than flower cluster, edges torn, often with long hairs.
Fruits - dark brown, egg-shaped capsules, 2 - 2.5 mm long, equal to or longer than flower scales; many seeds, brown, 1.1 - 1.5 mm long.
Moist, open forests, thickets, meadows, shores and wetlands; widespread across Northwestern Ontario's boreal forest; circumpolar.
Field wood-rush (L. multiflora, also called L. campestris ssp. multiflora) has flowers and fruits crowded in dense, rounded clusters. It grows scattered across our region in dry to moist meadows, clearings and forest opening, and on turfy shores and pond edges. Livestock will eat wood-rushes in the spring, when they are tender and succulent, but the plants become tough and unpalatable as the season progresses. The outer surfaces of wood-rush seeds produce a sticky mucilage when they become wet. This helps to establish the seedling, but it can also aid in seed dispersal by adhering to passing animals, which then carry the seed to new areas.
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