Juncus ensifolius Wikstr.
Species Image Gallery
(opens in a new window)
Family: Juncaceae
Genus: Juncus
Species Synonyms: Juncus ensifolius var. major Hook.
Juncus xiphioides var. triandrus Engelm
Common Names: dagger rush
swordleaf rush
three-stamened rush
equitant-leaved rush
Canada: Yukon Territory – British Columbia, southeastern Alberta – south western Saskatchewan, Ontario – Quebec
Saskatchewan: southern and central Saskatchewan; Cypress Hills, Duck Lake
Ecoregion: Cypress Upland, Mid-Boreal Upland
Saskatchewan: shores and springy areas
Provincial Status According
to Harms (2003):
Nature Conservancy Status:
G5 S2
Saskatchewan Species at
Risk Status:
Dagger rush is threatened in Saskatchewan because it is rare. It is located in two regions of the province, but its range does not seem to be continuous. Local population sizes vary. No immediate threats are known for this species.
Height: 20 – 60 cm
Roots: rhizome 2 – 3 mm in diameter
Stems: perennial, erect, flattened and two-edged
Leaves: basal leaves 1 – 3, stem leaves 2 – 6, straw-coloured, blade 2 – 25 cm long, 1 – 6 mm wide; ear-like lobes absent
Inflorescence: branched or unbranched clusters of 2 – 50 heads or head solitary, branches erect or ascending; heads 3 – 70-flowered, 7 – 11 mm diameter; primary bract erect
Flowers: tepals of different lengths, the inner slightly shorter than the outer, green to brown or reddish-brown, tip sharp; stamens 3, anthers half as long as filament
Fruits: capsules 2.4 – 4.3 mm long, equal to or slightly longer than the tepals, with a sharp abrupt tip, 1-locular, chestnut to dark brown; seeds elliptic to inversely egg-shaped, < 1 mm long, occasionally with a tail
1 Inflorescence appearing lateral; leaves all basal
1 Inflorescence appearing terminal; may have at least one blade-bearing leaf on the lower stem or all leaves basal
2 Bract stout, much shorter than stem; perianth parts usually darker brown; anthers commonly much longer than their filaments
J. balticus
2 Bract slender, as long as or longer than stem; perianth parts greenish to light brown; anthers commonly shorter than or equal to their filaments
J. filiformis
3 Leaves divided by cross-partitions, rounded, or if flattened, bases overlapping and blades appearing oriented with the edge towards the stem
3 Leaves not divided by cross-partitions, rounded or if flattened, not appearing oriented with the edge towards the stem
4 Leaves strongly flattened and bases overlapping and blades appearing oriented with the edge towards the stem
4 Leaves rounded or slightly flattened
5 Styles surpassing petals; seeds with a distinct tail-like appendage
J. tracyi
5 Styles equal to petals; seeds without a tail
6 Stamens 3; ear-like lobes at the base of the leaf lacking
J. ensifolius
6 Stamens 6; ear-like lobes at the base of the leaf present
J. saximontanus
7 Flowers in dense spherical heads
7 Flowers few to many in narrower heads
8 Heads solitary; rhizomes densely matted
J. mertensianus
8 Heads solitary; rhizomes elongate and creeping, often bearing swellings
9 Tepals reddish-brown, inner tepals longer than or equal to outer tepals; leaves 1 – 2 mm thick; sheaths with yellowish ear-like lobes
J. nodosus var. nodosus
9 Tepals greenish to dull brown, inner tepals shorter than outer tepals; leaves to 5 mm thick; sheaths with membranous ear-like lobes
J. torreyi
10 Seeds about 1 mm long, with definite white tail-like appendages
J. brevicaudatus
10 Seeds less than 0.5 mm long, sharply pointed but without white tails
11 Anthers shorter than or equalling their filaments; perianth segments obtuse; capsule exceeding the perianth
J. alpinoarticulatus ssp. nodulosus
11 Anthers distinctly longer than their filaments; perianth segments acute; capsule shorter than or equal to the perianth
J. nevadensis
12 Each flower inserted singly on the branches of the inflorescences and subtended by a pair of small bractlets in addition to the bractlet at the base of the flower stalk
12 Each flower subtended only by the single bractlet at the base of the very short stalk
13 Roots fibrous; dwarf species, branched near base; annuals; leaf sheaths without ear-like lobes
J. bufonius
13 Rhizomes elongate or short if stem densely tufted; plants not dwarfed or branched near the base; perennials; leaf sheaths with ear-like lobes or prolonged
14 Leaf sheaths extending to about halfway up the stem
J. compressus
14 Leaf sheaths confined to base or only extending to about one third of the way up the stem
15 Sepals erect, closely appressed to the capsule
J. vaseyi
15 Sepals spreading to ascending, not closely appressed to the capsule
16 Ear-like lobes at the base of the leaf short and round; leaf blades less than half the length of the stem
J. dudleyi
16 Ear-like lobes at the base of the leaf delicate and membranous; leaf blades usually greater than half the length of the stem
17 Capsule 3-loculed, nearly equalling the perianth; inflorescence compact
J. confusus
17 Capsule 1-loculed, distinctly shorter than the perianth; inflorescence a loose, branched inflorescence
18 Ear-like lobes at the base of the leaf prolonged into a membranous projection 3 – 5 mm long
J. tenuis
18 Ear-like lobes at the base of the leaf shorter, up to 2 mm long, nearly membranous
J. interior
19 Seeds with a sharp point; leaves flattened and grass-like
J. longistylus
19 Seeds with distinct white tail-like appendages; leaves rounded to somewhat flattened or deeply channelled
20 Stems arising from elongate rhizomes; perianth and capsules dark brown to black
J. castaneus ssp. castaneus
20 Stems not rhizomatous, may form clumps; perianth and capsules pale
21 Capsules to 9 mm long; heads 1 – 2; lower stem leaves 1 – 3
J. stygius ssp. americanus
21 Capsules to 4 mm long; heads solitary; leaves all basal
J. albescens