Thursday, July 16, 2009

Soft Rushes

This plant mysteriously showed up in one of our farm ponds in Fillmore, MO. My brother-in-law had no idea where it had come from, or what it even was. It is an attractive plant, so it prompted me to ask around. Thanks to Scott Ryan one of the fisheries biologist at MDC I now have an accurate ID. This aquatic plant is called Soft Rush (Juncus effuses). In certain areas this plant could become invasive, but generally speaking it poses no threat of taking over your pond or other wet areas. They can be found in a wide variety of habitats, but almost always moist areas, near ponds, wetlands, marshes, and stream sides. This plant is beneficial to wildlife, the stems are used by muskrats to make their homes. The seeds are consumed by muskrats, squirrels, rabbits, songbirds, waterfowl gophers, and quail. This plant is also safe for humans as well. The shoots can be eaten raw, roasted or boiled. The seeds are also edible. Clusters of this plant provide cover for a variety of amphibians and waterfowl. This plant has also been used by the Japanese to weave their Tatami Mats. People have also used them to weave baskets. We will leave this plant in the pond and enjoy all the critters that will be attracted to it. Including the dragonflies who like to perch on its stems. I'm sure we will ponder for some time as to how it came to be in our pond. Perhaps the songbirds evacuated the seeds, or maybe a mammal did the same. Maybe waterfowl carried the seeds in on their webbed feet? Not sure how it came to us, it is one of those mystery's of nature, but it makes a nice attractive addition to the pond.

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