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Rush

rushes, stems, species and leaves

RUSH. Many plants growing in moist land having cylindrical stems are called rushes, al though generally with a qualifying adjective; as the bulrush flowering rush (Mao mus), or scouring rush (Equisetum), and some sedges (Cyperacew). The true rushes, how ever, are members of the grass-like family Juncace(e, containing about 250 species in the several genera, and distributed throughout the temperate zones. Some are destitute of leaves but have barren flower stems resembling leaves; some have leafy stems, the leaves rounded or somewhat compressed and usually jointed in ternally; the foliage of others is very narrow, springing from the root. The round stems of the leafless species, sometimes bearing flowers, are popularly called rushes. The presence of this family in a pasture denotes bad drainage, and they are troublesome to farmers, since cattle will touch them only as a last resort. The com mon bog or soft rush (Juncos effusus) is found in wet places throughout the temperate world. It is a typical species, with glabrous tufts at taining perhaps four feet, springing from a stout rootstock and bearing an inflorescence composed of many small greenishgrass-like flowers. This species is cultivated in Japan for making mats and with others is employed for the bottoms of chairs, baskets, coarse ropes for binding, etc. The stems of J. conglomeratus

were formerly gathered by English farmers and stripped of their green rind, leaving exposed a large pith with one even lengthwise rib of rind left to support it. This porous pith was then bleached and dried and dipped in scalding grease, thus becoming the wick of a rude candle, or grushlight,) which gave a good, clear light, and, if two feet long, would burn nearly an hour. These dried rush-piths were also used in place of cotton for wicks in open lamps.

Rushes, with a few sweet herbs, were scat tered before processions and were strewn on stages in Shakespeare's time and on the floort of houses before the advent of carpets. The strewing of rushes in the churches grew into a religious festival conducted with much pomp. There rushes on the floor generally became so filthy from overlong use that to order fresh rushes was a sincere mark of honor to a guest.

Scouring rushes are the hollow, jointed stems of the horsetail (Equisehun hiemak) the edipermis of which is impregnated with silica, and was formerly used for scouring metals. See Dtrrcir RUSH, Bulruches (Typha), or cat-tails, were some what employed in the place of true rushes, for mats and chair bottoms, and are also placed be tween barrel-staves.