Flowering Rush (Brudelys) is native to most of Europe and grows spread in Asia. It is also native to Denmark, especially in nutritious areas of Jutland and upon the Isles. It is introduced to the eastern North America as an ornamental plant and has now become a serious invasive weed in the Great Lakes area. In Israel, one of its native countries, it is an endangered species due to the dwindling of its habitat. It can also be found in Great Britain locally.
The plant is a rhizomatous, hairless, perennial aquatic plant. It grows in the reed-marsh by lakes, ditches and water streams and prefers a mineral-rich ground, where it lives together with Common Reed, Broadleaf Cattail, the Simplestem Bur-reed or Branched Bur-reed (= Sparganium erectum), Yellow Iris, Reed Sweetgrass and Great Spearwort.
Its name is derived from Greek bous, meaning "cow", "ox" etc and tome, a cut (the verb 'temnein' meaning "to cut"), which refers to the plant's swordlike leaves. Other than suggested by its English common name, it is not a true rush. The Danish name Brudelys is a romantic name, meaning the Bride's Light or the Bride's Candle. Maybe because it looks like a candelabre. Brudelys is mentioned both in old folk songs and fairy tales, but not with the exact meaning of the word.
Flowering Rush is declining, caused by a rough waterstream-maintenance, since it tolerates no cutting. The plant reminds about the leaves of other plants along water-streams, but they can be recognized by their linear, pointed leaves up to 1 metre long, or more. The leaves are triangular in cross-section and arise in two rows along the rhizome base. They are untoothed, parallel veined and twisted. The leaves and stalks have air channels. The inflorescence has pink flowers, which ligthen up in all the green. The fruit is a follicle, and the seeds are spread with the water and maybe also with animals. It flowers from July until September.
Flowering rush is often seen in full or almost full vegetative growth. This happens especially for the first years after the species has established itself in a new locality. By water-streams in deeper water is it often fully vegetative.
When blooming the Flowering Rush cannot be mistaken for other plants. The flowers of Arrowhead might resemble it superficially, but it has long-stalked , arrow-shaped basic leaves. Flowering Rush might be mistaken for species of Branched Bur-reed, where some have triangular leaves at the bottom, but Flowering Rush is usually easy to recognize by the long narrow, triangular-winged leaves.
Pure under-water forms of the plant can be difficult or impossible to identify.
Frequently cultivated as an attractive ornamental plant. In parts of Russia the rhizomes are used as food.
photo July 2010: grethe bachmann