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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - May 04, 2008

From: Silver Spring, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Water Gardens, Herbs/Forbs
Title: The origin of Juncus effusus var. Big Twister
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Juncus effusus, var. 'Big Twister' We're trying to figure out the nativity of this thing, and whether it is safe to plant in our very wet rain garden. Thank you for any assistance...

ANSWER:

Juncus effusus var. 'Big Twister' is really a cultivar of the North American native, Juncus effusus (common rush) and should be written as Juncus effusus 'Big Twister' without the "var.", the abbreviation for the more formal botanical variety. Apparently, the species occasionally produces spiral-stemmed individuals. Those have been propagated and are being sold in nurseries. You will also find them sometimes listed as Juncus effusus forma spiralis (or Juncus effusus f. spiralis or Juncus effusus 'Spiralis'). It’s usually referred to as corkscrew rush or, sometimes, spiral rush. As for it being "safe", it is a native so in that sense is certainly safe, but it will spread through its roots or stolons. If you don't want it taking over your wet area, you should plant it in submerged pots.

 

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