Couch Grass or Quack Grass Elymus repens

Couch Grass or Quackgrass Elymus repens Elytrigia repens). A brave or foolish person would encourage this perennial grass into their garden. Couch grass is one of the most pernicious weeds that gardeners must contend with. Couch Grass grows to 60cm tall, and the roots spread quickly through the soil, extending into the roots of other plants and making them almost impossible to get out. Even a small section of root left in the soil will quickly start growing again. However, despite its antisocial tendency in the garden, Couch Grass is a beneficial herbal medicine. The famous Herbalist, Culpepper, has stated that half an acre of Couch Grass was worth five acres of carrots twice over. The edible uses of Couch Grass are minor. The roots have been dried and ground into a powder, then used with wheat when making bread. Although the roots are thin and stringy, they contain starch and enzymes and are quite sweet. When boiled for a long time to break down the leathery membrane, syrup can be made from the roots, and this is brewed into a beer. When roasted, the root has been ground into a powder and used as a healthier coffee substitute. 

Couch Grass is of considerable value as a herbal medicine -a decoction of the roots being very useful in treating a wide range of kidney, liver and urinary disorders. They have a gentle remedial effect that is well tolerated by the body and have no side effects. This plant is also a favourite medicine of domestic cats and dogs, which will often eat quite large quantities of the leaves.

The long creeping root system is planted in sand dunes near the coast to bind the soil together.

For more information in the Plant Database Couch Grass or Quackgrass Elymus repens