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Cornish Red Data (2009)

The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.

Juncus pygmaeus - Pigmy Rush

Range & Status

Native; a Mediterranean-Atlantic species, it reaches its northerly limit in southern Britain, where it is confined to The Lizard.

Regional Distribution

It has been recorded in a total of 23 1km squares on The Lizard (SW61, SW71 and SW72). Populations fluctuate very markedly. Pygmy Rush formerly occurred in thousands at the various sites, but such numbers are only known from one extant site.

Habitat & Ecology

Pygmy Rush grows in the rutted tracks that criss-cross The Lizard heathlands, seasonally wet pools and occasionally in muddy gateways. Like J. capitatus it is only identifiable for a short period in early summer. A frequent associate is Yellow Centaury Cicendia filiformis .


J. pygmaeus is unable to withstand competition and disappears once a track gets

overgrown with more vigorous plants. Neglect and re-surfacing have caused the greatest losses in the past.


An attempt to re-colonise tracks by vehicles used to keep the tracks open has not proved as successful as hoped, but it has helped to maintain some existing populations. Much of the southern part of The Lizard is SSSI and managed by the National Trust and Natural England. Plantlife and Cornwall Wildlife Trust have also been re-establishing, grazing and monitoring a trackway where it formerly grew, at Ruan Pool (SW61), so far without success.

Click here to see Aphotoflora images by David Fenwick


I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.

The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.