Herbs & Plants

Quackgrass (Agropyron repens)

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Botanical Name : Elymus repens
Family:    Poaceae
Genus:    Elymus
Species:    E. repens
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Poales

Other common names:.Dog grass, couch grass, quitch grass, quake grass, scutch grass, twitch grass, witch grass, wheatgrass, creeping wheatgrass, devil’s grass, durfa grass, durfee grass, Dutch grass, Fin’s grass, chandler’s grass, couch grass,twitch, quick grass, quitch grass (also just quitch), dog grass, quackgrass, scutch grass, and witchgrass.

Habitat and range. Quack grass is  native to most of Europe, Asia, the Arctic , and northwest Africa.   Like many of our weeds, quack grass was introduced from Europe and is now one of the worst pests with which the farmer has to contend, taking possession of cultivated ground and crowding out valuable crops. It occurs most abundantly from Maine to Maryland, westward to Minnesota and Missouri, and is spreading on farms on the Pacific slope, but is rather sparingly distributed in the South.

Part used. The rootstocks, collected in the spring, are carefully cleaned, cut into small pieces about a fourth of an inch long, and dried.

Description. Couch grass is a very common perennial species of grass. It is rather coarse, 1 to 3 feet high, and when in flower resembles rye or beardless wheat. Its smooth hollow stems, which are thickened at the joints, are produced from a long, creeping rootstock. The flowering heads are produced from July to September.


It has creeping rhizomes which enable it to grow rapidly across grassland. It has flat, hairy leaves with upright flower spikes. The stems (‘culms’) grow to 40–150 cm tall; the leaves are linear, 15–40 cm long and 3–10 mm broad at the base of the plant, with leaves higher on the stems 2–8.5 mm broad. The flower spike is 10–30 cm long, with spikelets 1–2 cm long, 5–7 mm broad and 3 mm thick with three to eight florets. The glumes are 7–12 mm long, usually without an awn or with only a short one.

It flowers at the end of June through to August in the northern hemisphere

It has become naturalized throughout much of the world. It is a recognized as a notoriously invasive weed. This weed is famously difficult to remove from garden environments. One method is to dig deep into the ground in order to remove as much of the grass as possible. The area should then be covered with a thick layer of woodchips. To further prevent re-growth cardboard can be placed underneath the woodchips. The long, white rhizomes will, however, dry out and die if left on the surface.

The caterpillars of some Lepidoptera use it as a foodplant, e.g. the Essex Skipper(Thymelicus lineola).

Propagation:Easily regenerates from very small broken rhizome fragments making mechanical control difficult

: Common spreading weed, root is creeping yellow scaly stem, mucilaginous, elastic. It travels horizontally to populate new areas of the garden periodically sending up new green shoots as well as putting down more wiry roots. Found in disturbed and settled areas, lawns, gardens, fields etc. Rhizome should be unearthed in spring or early summer before the new growth becomes tough and dry. Wash carefully and dry in the shade.

Medical use
Couch Grass has been used in herbal medicine since the Classical period. Sick dogs are known to dig up and eat the root, and medieval herbalists used it to treat inflamed bladders, painful urination and water retention. It also has antiseptic properties.

Agropyron repens Used for urinary infections such as cystitis and prostatitis. The demulcent properties soothe irritated and inflamed tissues, thus may help with kidney stones and in the treatment of enlarged prostate glands. As a tonic diuretic it is used with other herbs for rheumatism. Herbalists often use it as an anti-microbial and demulcent for acne, used both internally and as an external wash.

Instructions: Use a decoction of the rhizome (2 tsp to the cup) taken 3 times a day. Tincture of the rhizome 30-60 drops three times a day.

Properties: Demulcent, diuretic, anti-microbial, tonic. Contains carbohydrates, mucilage, acid, potassium, volatile oils.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.