Couch-Grass. Agropyron repens (L.) Beauv.
OTHER COMMON NAMES—Dog-grass, quick-grass, quackgrass, quitch-grass, quake-grass, scutchgrass, twitch-grass, witch-grass, wheatgrass, crepping wheatgrass, devil's-grass, durfa-grass, Durfee-grass, Dutch-grass, Fin's-grass, Chandler's grass.
HABITAT AND RANGE—Like many of our weeds, couch-grass was introduced from Europe, and is now one of the worst pests the farmer has to contend with, taking possession of the cultivated ground and crowding out valuable crops. it occurs most abundantly from Maine to Maryland, westward to Minnesota and Minnesota, and is spreading on farms on the Pacific slope, but is rather sparingly distributed in the South.
DESCRIPTION OF PLANT—Couch-grass is rather coarse, 1 to 3 feet high, and when in flower very much resemble rye or beardless wheat. Several round, smooth, hollow stems, thickened at the joints, are produced from the long, creeping, jointed rootstock. The stems bear 5 to 7 leaves from 3 to 12 inches long, rough on the upper surface and smooth beneath, while the long, cleft leaf sheaths are smooth. The solitary terminal flowering heads or spikes are compresses, and consist of two rows of spikelets on a wavy and flattened axis. These heads are produced from July to September. Couch Grass belongs to the grass family (Poaceae.)
DESCRIPTION OF ROOTSTOCK—The pale yellow, smooth rootstock is long, tough and jointed, creeping along underneath the ground, and pushing in every direction. As found in the stores, it consists of short, angular pieces, from one-eighth to one-fourth of an inch long, of a shining straw color, and hollow. These pieces are odorless, but have a somewhat sweetish taste.
COLLECTION, PRICES AND USES—Couch-Grass, which is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, should be collected in spring, carefully cleaned, and the rootlets removed. The rootstock (not rootlets) is then cut into short pieces about two-fifths of an inch in length, for which purpose an ordinary feed-cutting machine may be used, and thoroughly dried.
Couch-Grass is usually destroyed by plowing up and burning, for if any of the joints are permitted to remain in the soil new plants will be produced. But, instead of burning, the rootstocks may be saved and prepared for the drug market in the manner above stated. The prices range from 3 to 5 cents a pound. At present Couch-Grass is collected chiefly in Europe.
A fluid extract is prepared from Couch-Grass, which is used in affections of the kidney and bladder.
Ginseng and Other Medicinal Plants, 1936, was written by A. R. Harding.