Mountain rush

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Juncus arcticus Willd. ssp. littoralis (Engelm.) Hultén; old Juncus balticus Willd.

Common name(s): mountain rush, Baltic rush

Link(s): USDA PLANTS Profile, NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


– perennial



-leaf sheaths are clustered at the base

  • 2-15 cm long
  • red to light to dark brown

-lowest bract of the mountain rushinflorescence is round and 2 to 20 cm

-Flowers are greenish or brownish

  • sessile to pedicellate

– one of two genera of rushes in ME; Juncus is not hairy, the other (Luzula) is hairy




-fixes nitrogen

-erosion prevention-low palatability

-resistant to grazing pressure

-phenotypic plasticity to flooding and drought stress

-wildlife habitat and food

– Rushes help improve habitat for amphibians and spawning areas for fish

– Attempts at harvesting during times of heavy rain or flooding are likely to fail

Natural History:

-the stems are used to make baskets

-Juncus shoots were eaten raw, roasted in ashes, or boiled by Maidu, Luiseño, and others



Stevens, M., Hoag, C., Tilley, D., and L. St. John. 2012.Plant Guide for mountain rush (Juncus arcticus ssp. littoralis). USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Aberdeen Plant Materials Center. Aberdeen, Idaho 83210.


Eric T. Doucette, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Biology, MA College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, MA (updated Feb 2018)