Vascular – Native
Rushes & Allied Plants
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
Current conservation status
The threat classification status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS) – more information about this can be found on the NZTCS website This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley. Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – a suggested threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
2018 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon
Previous conservation statuses
2017 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: DP, Sp
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. North, South and Chatham Islands.
Widespread but generally local in its occurrences. Coastal to upper montane (1200 m a.s.l.). Often fringing swamps, and in cloud forest common along board walks. Also present in drier hill country, and in tussock grassland. Tending to favour poorly drained clay soils.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Information derived from the revised national wetland plant list prepared to assist councils in delineating and monitoring wetlands (Clarkson et al., 2021 Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research Contract Report LC3975 for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council). The national plant list categorises plants by the extent to which they are found in wetlands and not ‘drylands’. The indicator status ratings are OBL (obligate wetland), FACW (facultative wetland), FAC (facultative), FACU (facultative upland), and UPL (obligate upland).
FACW: Facultative Wetland
Usually is a hydrophyte but occasionally found in uplands (non-wetlands).
Small, dark green to red-green, wiry, tightly packed clumps. Rhizome 2-4 mm diameter, horizontal at or near surface (plants easily pulled from ground). Flowering stems 250-750 x 0.75-1.50 mm, more or less smooth, wiry-flexible, dull green, dark green, red-green to reddish, pith interrupted in a regular pattern by very small lacunae (gaps), pith partitions usually wider than cavities between; leaves absent; basal bracts short, closely sheathing, lower bracts bright red-brown, upper most straw-coloured. Inflorescence apparently lateral, compact, few-flowered, composed of two small clusters 10 mm wide, one pressed to stem, the other at the end of a longer, slender, pliant branchlet, occasionally each of the two clusters with a smaller subsidiary cluster. Flowers 2.3-3.0 mm long, tepals red-brown with light green centre at anthesis, becoming entirely red-brown at fruiting. Stamens 3-4, rarely more in occasional flowers. Capsule 2.5-3.0 mm long, often > in length than tepals, oblong-ovoid, obtuse, glossy, chestnut-brown, often with very dark brown tip.
The delicate, slender, wiry dark green, green to reddish stems with their internally, evenly, interrupted pith and small inflorescences with usually two heads, one close set to the stem the other up to 10 mm distant and held out from the stem mark this species out from all the others except J. filicaulis Buchenau, which differs in having inflorescences usually in a single cluster, and capsules more or less equal in length rather than > than the tepals. the stems of J. filicaulis are 0.5-1.0 mm cf. 0.75-1.5 mm diameter in J. distegus, and blue- or grey-green rather than dark green to red-green.
October - January
December - July
Mucilaginous seeds are dispersed by attachment, wind and water (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easy from fresh seed and by the division of whole plants. A rather delicate species and not invasive.
juncus: From the Latin jungere ‘to tie or bind’, the stems of some species being used to make cord (Johnson and Smith)
Where To Buy
Not commercially available.
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (1 September 2006). Description based on Moore & Edgar (1970).
References and further reading
Johnson, A.T. and Smith, H.A. 1986: Plant Names Simplified: Their pronunciation, derivation and meaning. Landsman Bookshop Ltd: Buckenhill, UK.
Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Government Printer, Wellington.
Thorsen, M.J.; Dickinson, K.J.M.; Seddon, P.J. 2009: Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Juncus distegus Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/juncus-distegus/ (Date website was queried)