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Common couch

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Scientific name: Elytrigia repens
Common couch is a tall, tuft-forming grass of roadside verges, waste ground and arable land. It is very tough and can shade out more delicate plants. Look for flat, blade-like leaves and thin flower spikes.

Top facts

Stats

Height: up to 1.5m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

Common couch is an abundant, tuft-forming grass of cultivated ground, waste ground, roadside verges and other rough ground. It flowers from June to August, and has long, tough roots, helping it to spread from hedges and field margins into crops, becoming a nuisance to farmers. It can form dense stands that shade out other, more delicate grasses and plants, but it does provide food for the larvae of Speckled Wood and Ringlet butterflies.

What to look for

Common couch has green, fat, blade-like leaves, but long, thin flower spikes. Tiny, golden spikelets appear at the ends of the stems in rows.

Where to find

Widespread.

Did you know?

Common couch is also locally known as 'Twitch', 'Wickens' and 'Grandmother grass'. Its roots are known to be a mild diuretic and were gathered for this purpose during the Second World War.