rush, name for tall, grasslike plants of various families, many of which have hollow stems. The true rushes belong to the family Juncaceae, one of the oldest families of plants, closely related to the family Liliaceae (lily family). Most rushes grow in swamps. Among them are the common or bog rush ( Juncus effusus ), widely distributed in swamps and moist places of the Northern Hemisphere, and the slender rush ( J. tenuis ), found in drier surroundings. Rushes are used for basketwork, mats, chair seats, and other articles. Wicks for candles known as rushlights are made from the pith of some rushes. The wood rush ( Luzula ) grows on dry ground, and some species are relished by livestock. Other plants often called rushes are the bulrush; the Dutch or scouring rush, a horsetail ( Equisetum hyemale ), still used in some regions for scouring; and the sweet flag, or sweet rush ( Acorus calamus ), of the arum family. Rushes were formerly strewn on the floors of churches, castles, and other buildings. True rushes are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Juncales, family Juncaceae. Sweet rushes, family Araceae, belong to the same class as the true rushes, but in the order Arales. Scouring rushes are classified in the division Equisetophyta.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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