Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Couch Grass

Pixie first asked:

“Please talk more about cooch grass.”

Followed by Ellie enquiring:

“What is couch grass? What is the difference between couch grass and cooch grass (other than a typo)? What makes a weed a weed versus just another plant?”

I never knew gardening held such an interest! I shall have to inflict more on you all.

Elymus repens, or as more commonly called: Couch, Cooch, Twitch, Quick, Quitch and Quack grass is a common, or course grass (it’s a weed, a nasty nasty weed). Curiously, the common names all derive from the middle English “Quitch Grass”. It is an insidious invasive plant, the bane of gardeners desiring a perfect stripy grass lawn or weed free border. It is also ugly, that (and unstoppable vigorousness) being the prime difference between a weed and a desired garden plant. It is also considered an invasive weed, in that, though originating in Europe, it has spread throughout the world. Most gardeners will recognize it, though it has a thousand names.

Left unchecked (or unmowed) it grows to a height of 10-15cm, with the corn flower growing to 20cm. A clump growing grass, it is identifiable by the rather ugly rings it forms. It is a very vigorous weed, and propagates via rhizomes growing in its root system. Thus, once a single plant is allowed to grow, it can spread rapidly outside of its flowering season via its roots.

As a gardener, it is particularly difficult to dislodge as a new plant can grow from just a scrap of root left in the ground. Just ripping the leaves off the top of the plant is not nearly sufficient to kill it. Modern varieties are increasingly becoming resistant to milder herbicides, making its control even harder. Recent European Union law restricting the strength of retail herbicides (for health reasons (seems children and suicides get a hold of it (nanny does know best))) exacerbates the situation wildly.

Not to be confused with Couch Grass, a fun filled herbivorous grazing activity performed by one consenting adult between the legs of another consenting adult in darkened living rooms.


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