The rushes grow freely on cold, damp soils in many parts of the world, including the British Isles. They have practically no garden value, although the corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus spiralis) is an effective waterside plant. In the Middle Ages rushes were strewn on floors. They have also been employed for chair bottoms, mats and basket-making. At one time the pith formed the wick of rushlights.