Some deleterious effects of drought, soil salinity and other abiotic stresses are mediated by the generation of oxidative stress through an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) that damage cellular membranes, proteins and DNA. In response to increased ROS, plants activate an array of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant defence responses. In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Al Hassan et al. studied the level of oxidative stress and the activation of antioxidant responses in three rush species – sea rush (Juncus maritimus), spiny rush (J. acutus) and jointleaf rush (J. articulatus) – subjected to salt and water stress treatments. The halophytes J. maritimus and J. acutus were the most tolerant taxa; they were less affected by oxidative stress than the salt-sensitive J. articulatus under both conditions, due to more efficient activation of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant systems. These results show the relative importance of different antioxidant responses for stress tolerance in species with distinct ecological requirements.