Juncus tenuis Willd.
Juncus macer Gray
Juncus tenuis Willd. var. multicornis E. Mey.
Juncus tenuis Willd. var. williamsii Fernald
Path Rush, Slender Rush, Field Rush, Poverty Rush, Wiregrass
Path rush is native to and found throughout North America. It prefers full sun to light shade, and clay-loam or gravelly soils and a wide range of wetness.
Plants: Path rush, so-called because it is tough enough to grow right in the middle of trails, is easy to miss at first, looking like grass from a distance. But it is very common. Path rush is less than 12" (30 cm) high.
Leaves: Leaf blades are basal, and very thin, resembling pine needles, but up close they are narrow and flat, sometimes rolled slightly at the edges, resembling a slice of celery in cross-section. The blades are hairless, ~¹/₃₂" (0.5-1 mm) wide, and medium green in color, darkening later in the season.
Flowers: Tiny light greenish flowers consist of three petals and three sepals. They look nearly identical to each other, creating starlike flowers about ¼" (6.3 mm) around. Each petal and sepal is ¹/₁₆-³/₁₆" (3-5 mm) long. Flowers appear from April to May.
Fruits: Seed capsules are ovoid, about ¹/₁₆-³/₁₆" (3-5 mm) long and ¹/₁₆-⅛" (2-3 mm) around. The petals and sepals remain, now loosely wrapped around the capsule. Each capsule has three sections, a small point on top, and is filled with tiny seeds less than ¹/₃₂" (0.5 mm) long.
Juncus tenuis at Illinois Wildflowers
Juncus tenuis on the New England Wildflower Society’s GoBotany site
Juncus tenuis at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Juncus tenuis on Wikimedia Commons
Juncus tenuis description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 2 Jan 2019.