Crooked Run Valley
poverty rush (Juncus tenuis)
slender yard rush,
Juncus macer Gray,
Juncus tenuis Willd. var. multicornis E. May.
Juncus tenuis Willd. var. williamsii Fernald
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for poverty
rush is Juncus tenuis Willd.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Poverty rush is a
tufted perennial of the rush family (Juncaceae) with fibrous roots that
grows 6-28 inches tall. The stems are slender, rounded and bright green.
Leaves are borne on the lower 1/5 of the stem, and are 0.4 inch wide, flat,
and without blades. The two involucral bracts are longer than the inflores-
cence, and the lower bract can appear to be a continuation of the stem. Inflorescence is diffuse, 0.4-3 inches long, branched, and terminal with
10-50 singly borne flowers. Tepals are green to straw-colored, 1.5-2 inch-
es long with a green midrib and white margins. Fruit is a straw-colored,
oblong to oval capsule that is subequal or shorter than the tepals, with an
abruptly round and dimpled tip. The seeds are small and elliptical with a
ridge along the entire length on both sides.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Seeds are non-dormant and germinate
in the spring as soils warm.
HABITAT TYPES: Poverty rush grows on freshwater sites that have
saturated soil conditions during the winter and dry conditions during the
summer. It is common in disturbed areas with seeps and springs, such as
prairies, meadows, shaded roads, and ditches.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Poverty rush has an ability to grow in wet, compacted, clayey soils and proliferates in highly trafficked and/or rocky
areas. Poverty rush typically prefers full sun to light shade with wet to
mesic soil moisture levels, and heavy clay loam, clay, or gravelly soils.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Bloom period is June to September.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Poverty rush is found throughout the
United States and Canada (with exception of Yukon and northern terri-
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION:
Grass specimens can be found on trails marked in red.
Appalachian Trail/Old Trail
South Ridge/North Ridge
Rolling Meadows/ Lost Mountain
The specific distribution of poverty rush has not been determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Some upland gamebirds and granivorous songbirds feed on the seeds of poverty rush. In addition, poverty rush is
used as material for nest construction, and as cover for foraging animals. Mamalian herbivores typically avoid poverty rush as the plant material
becomes stringy and tough when mature.
Poverty rush is ideal for streambank or drainage stabilization due to its
bunched growth form, and ability to grow in saturated and compacted
Poverty rush can be used in the bottom of constructed bioswales as a
groudlayer. It is also used in the scrub shrub layer as a ground cover in constructed wetlands.
Poverty rush is also useful as a groundcover, or water plant in a rain gar-
den due to its ability to grow in compacted and saturated soils.
Poverty rush was used medicinally by the Native American Cherokee in
an infusion used as a wash to strengthen babies, and prevent against lame-
ness. Additionally, it was used in a decoction to dislodge spoiled saliva.
Native American Iroquois runners and lacrosse players used poverty rush
in a decoction or infusion to induce vomiting, or as a wash.
Native American Cherokee used poverty rush stems and plant material as cordage to bind dough in oak leaves for baking bread.