The true Rushes (Juncaceoe) include the Soft Rush (effusus);

the Hard Rush (glaucus); and the Common Rush (conglomeratus).

The Bulrush (Pool Rush) is a Sedge; the Club Rush is a Typha;

and the flowering Rush, a Butomus. Rish was the old method

of spelling the name.

A medicinal tincture is made (H.) from the fresh root of the juncus

effusus. It will be found helpful against spinal irritability, with
br /> some crampy tightness felt in the arms and legs, together with

headache and flatulent indigestion. Four or five drops should be

given for a dose, with a spoonful of water, three or four times in the


This, the Soft Rush, is commonly used for tying the bines of hops to

the poles; and, as these bines grow larger in size, the rushes wither,

setting the bines free in a timely fashion. To find a green-topped

Seave, or Rush, and a four-leaved Clover, is, in rural estimation,

equally lucky.

The generic title, Juncus, has been applied because Rushes are in

conjunction when planted together for making cordage.

The common Rush is found by roadsides in damp pastures, and is

readily known by its long, slender, round, naked stem, containing

pith, and showing about the middle of July a dense globular bead of

brown flowers. Rushes of this sort were employed by our remote

ancestors for strewing, when fresh and green, about the floor of the

hall after discontinuing its big fire at Eastertide. Shakespeare says

in Romeo and Juliet:--

Wantons, light of heart,

Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels.

[480] In obedience to a bequest (1494); Rushes are still

strewn about the pavement of Redcliff Church at Bristol every

Whit-Sunday. The common phrase, not worth a Rush, took its origin

from this general practice. Distinguished guests were honoured in

mediaeval times with clean fresh Rushes; but those of inferior rank

had either the Rushes left by their superiors, or none at all.

The sweet-scented Flag, or Rush (Acorus calamus), was always

used by preference where it could be procured. It is a native of this

country, growing on watery banks, and very plentiful in the river's

of Norfolk, from whence the London market is supplied. The roots

have a warm, bitter taste, and the essential oil is highly aromatic,

this being used for preparing aromatic vinegar. In Norfolk the

powdered dry rhizome is given for ague. With sugar it makes an

agreeable cordial conserve. (See Flag (Sweet), page 201 ). For

preserving the aromatic qualities within the dried rhizome; or root, it

should be kept in stock unpeeled. This contains oleum calami, and

the bitter principle acorin. Some of the root may be habitually

chewed for the relief of chronic indigestion. The odorous delights of

a pastoral time passed near these sweetly-fragrant plants have been

happily alluded to in the well-known lines of idyllic verse:--

Green grow the Rushes, oh!

Green grow the Rushes, oh!

The sweetest hours that e'er I spent

Were spent among the lasses, oh!

Virent junci fluviales,

Junci prope lymphas:

Ah! quain ridet quoe me videt

Hora inter Nymphas!

[481] The old saying, As fit as Tib's Rush for Tom's fore-finger,

alludes to an ancient custom of making spurious marriages with a

ring constructed from a Rush. Tom and Tib were vulgar epithets

applied in Shakespeare's time to the rogue, and the wanton.

The Bulrush (Scirpus lacustris) is a tall, aquatic plant, which

belongs to the Sedge tribe. It name was formerly spelt Pole Rush,

and was given because this grows in pools of water, and not like

other Rushes, in mire. Bottoms of chairs are frequently made with

its stems. Its seed is prepared medicinally, being astringent and

somewhat sedative; So soporiferous, says Gerard, that care must

be had in the administration thereof, lest in provoking sleep you

induce a drowsiness, or dead sleep. Street hawkers, in Autumn,

offer as Bulrushes the tall, round spikes of the Great Reed Mace,

which is not a true Rush. Artists are responsible in the first instance

for the mistake--notably Paul De la Roche, in his famous picture of

The Finding of Moses. The future great leader of the Israelites is

there depicted in an ark amid a forest of Great Cat's-tail Reeds.

The flowering Rush, or water gladiole, which grows by the banks of

rivers is called botanically butomus, from the Greek, bous, an

ox, and temno, to cut, because the sharp edges of the erect

three-cornered leaf-blades wound the cattle which come in contact with

them, or try to eat them. Its root is highly esteemed in Russia for the

cure of hydrophobia, being regarded by the doctors as a specific for

that disease. Its flowers are large, and of a splendid rose colour. The

seeds promote the monthly flow in women, act on disordered

kidneys, prove astringent against fluxes, and serve to woo sleep in

nervous wakefulness. Gerard tells that the seed [482] of Rushes

drieth the overmuch flowing of women's termes.

The Reed Mace, or Cat's-tail, is often incorrectly called Bulrush,

though it is a typha (tuphos, marsh) plant.

The Bog Asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum) grows in bogs, and

bears a spike of yellow, star-like flowers. Its second nominative was

given to signify its causing the bones of cattle which feed thereon

to become soft; but probably this morbid state is incurred rather

through the exhalations arising from the bogs where the cattle are

pastured. To the same plant has been given also the name Mayden

heere, because young damsels formerly used it for making their

hair yellow.

The Great Cat's-tail (Typha palustris), or Great Reed Mace, a

perennial reed common in Great Britain, affords by the tender white

part of its stalks when peeled near the root, a crisp, cooling,

pleasant article of food. This is eaten raw with avidity by the

Cossacks. Aristophanes makes mention of the Mace in his comedy of

frogs who were glad to have spent their day skipping about inter

Cyperum et Phleum, among Galingale and Cat's-tail. Sacred

pictures which represent our Saviour wearing the crown of thorns,

place this reed in His hands as given Him in mockery for a kingly

Mace. The same Typha has been further called Dunse-down,

from making persons dunch, or deaf, if its soft spikes accidentally

run into the ears. Ejus enim paniculoe flos si aures intraverit,

exsurdat. It is reasonable to suppose that, on the principle of

similars, a preparation of this plant, if applied topically within the

ear, as well as taken medicinally, will be curative of a like deafness.

Most probably the injury to the hearing caused by the spikes at first

is toxic as well as of the nature of an injury. The Poet Laureate sings

of Sleepy breath made sweet [483] with Galingale (Cyperus

longus). Other names again are, Chimney-sweeper's brush;

Blackheads until ripe, then Whiteheads; and Water torch,

because its panicles, if soaked in oil, will burn like a torch.