The roasted root is a coffee substitute. Young leaves and shoots - eaten raw in spring salads. A slightly sweet flavour, though quickly becoming very fibrous, they are rather less than wonderful[K]. The juice from these shoots is sometimes used as a spring tonic.Seed. A cereal mash can be made from them. The seed is very small and there is a large husk surrounding it, so that effectively it is more like eating fibre than cereal[K].
The plant has a long creeping root system and so it has been planted in sand dunes near the coast to bind the soil together.A grey dye is obtained from the roots.
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Some modern works have now separated this species off into a new genus as Elytrigia repens. A food plant for the caterpillars of many butterfly and moth species.This species can become a pernicious weed, spreading rapidly by underground rhizomes and quickly forming a dense mat of roots in the soil that strangles other plant growth[K]. Even the smallest fragment of root is capable of regenerating into a new plant, thus making it exceedingly difficult to get rid of. A good thick mulch through which nothing can grow, can be applied to the area, though it will need to be left in place for at least two growing seasons to be fully effective[K]. Despite its antisocial tendency in the garden, couch is a very useful herbal medicine and Culpepper is said to have stated that half an acre of couch was worth five acres of carrots twice over.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
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Polycultures & Guilds
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