Short-fruited Rush

Juncus brachycarpus Engelm.

Juncus brachycarpus plant
Deborah Morrison

Monocotyledoneae (Monocots)
Juncaceae (Rush Family)
State Protection
Listed as Endangered by New York State: in imminent danger of extirpation in New York. For animals, taking, importation, transportation, or possession is prohibited, except under license or permit. For plants, removal or damage without the consent of the landowner is prohibited.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Apparently or Demonstrably Secure globally - Uncommon to common in the world, but not rare; usually widespread, but may be rare in some parts of its range; possibly some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors. More information is needed to assign either G4 or G5.


Did you know?

The species name means short-fruited because the fruit of this species does not extend beyond the tepals and it does not have the long tails that some species have on their seeds (Fernald 1950).

State Ranking Justification

There is only one existing population with a couple of hundred plants. There are nine records from the early 1900s which need to be rechecked although one of these no longer exists because its habitat has been destroyed by development.

Short-term Trends

The current population seems stable.

Long-term Trends

This plant has always been very rare in New York but it seems to have declined over the past 100 years although more detailed surveys are needed to confirm this.

Conservation and Management


Succession may be a threat if the area is not kept open. Purple loosestrife also grows nearby.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

The open meadow habitat needs to be maintained and purple loosestrife should be controlled.

Research Needs

More research is needed into the habitat preference for this species in order to narrow down areas to search. Propagation studies are needed to find out if populations could be augmented.



In New York are only occurrence is in a wet meadow within a successional old field on an acidic loam.(New York Natural Heritage Program 2012). Damp siliceous, argillaceous or peaty soil (Fernald 1970). Damp or wet soil (Gleason & Cronquist 1991).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Shallow emergent marsh (guide)
    A marsh meadow community that occurs on soils that are permanently saturated and seasonally flooded. This marsh is better drained than a deep emergent marsh; water depths may range from 6 in to 3.3 ft (15 cm to 1 m) during flood stages, but the water level usually drops by mid to late summer and the soil is exposed during an average year.

Associated Species

  • Eleocharis
  • Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset)
  • Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)
  • Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
  • Panicum virgatum (switch grass)
  • Quercus palustris (pin oak)
  • Salix


New York State Distribution

There is one known occurrence in the Bronx and historical records from Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.

Global Distribution

This rush is distributed in the Atlantic coastal states from Massachusetts south to Georgia but it is most common in the central US from Ohio to Illinois south to Alabama and west to eastern Texas, Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas. It is rare in its northern limits from New York and Pennsylvania to Michigan and Ontario.

Identification Comments

General Description

This rush has stems that are erect and 4-9 dm tall. The rhizomes are tuberous. The leaves are terete with cross partitions and they are not longer than the inflorescence. The leaf sheaths are smooth and not ribbed. The flowers are in rounded clusters and pale green to dull brown, without subtending bracteoles. There are 3 stamens and the tepals are long and narrow at the tip (subulate). The capsules are ovoid, shorter than the tepals in the house do not stick together at the top. The seeds are clear yellow-brown and not tailed.

Identifying Characteristics

Distinguishing characteristics: stems erect, 4-9 dm tall; leaves terete, septate; flowers pale green to dull brown, without subtending bracteoles; capsule ovoid-conic, only ½ to 2/3 as long as the perianth; seeds 0.3 mm long. Best life stage for ID: in fruit. Characteristics needed to ID: culms with leaves and mature achenes.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

This rush is best identified in fruit.

Similar Species

Another Long Island rush, Juncus scirpoides, sedge rush, has long narrow capsules that stick out from the tepals and the valves stick together at the top after it opens.

Best Time to See

This rush produces fruit in July through early November.

  • Fruiting

The time of year you would expect to find Short-fruited Rush fruiting in New York.

Short-fruited Rush Images


Short-fruited Rush
Juncus brachycarpus Engelm.

  • Kingdom Plantae
    • Phylum Anthophyta
      • Class Monocotyledoneae (Monocots)
        • Order Juncales
          • Family Juncaceae (Rush Family)

Additional Common Names

  • Rush
  • Short-fruited Rush

Additional Resources

Best Identification Reference

Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2000. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Vol. 22. Magnoliophyta: Alismatidae, Arecidae, Commelinidae (in part), and Zingiberidae. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxiii + 352 pp.

Other References

Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.

Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, New York


About This Guide

This guide was authored by: Stephen M. Young

Information for this guide was last updated on: September 20, 2012

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Juncus brachycarpus. Available from: Accessed May 26, 2024.