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Sand Couch Grass

Elytrigia juncea

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Poaceae (Grass)
Also in this family:
Alpine Catstail, Alpine Foxtail, Alpine Meadow-grass, Annual Beard-grass, Annual Meadow-grass, Arrow Bamboo, Barren Brome Grass, Bearded Couch Grass, Bearded Fescue, Bermuda Grass, Black Bent, Black Grass, Blue Fescue, Blue Moor-grass, Bog Hair-grass, Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass, Bread Wheat, Bristle Bent, Brown Bent, Brown Sedge, Bulbous Foxtail, Bulbous Meadow-grass, California Brome Grass, Canary Grass, Carnation Sedge, Cocksfoot, Cockspur, Common Bent, Common Cord-grass, Common Millet, Common Reed, Common Saltmarsh Grass, Compact Brome Grass, Corn, Couch Grass, Creeping Bent, Creeping Soft-grass, Crested Dog's-tail, Crested Hair-grass, Cultivated Oat, Curved Hard Grass, Cut Grass, Dense Silky Bent, Downy Oat-grass, Drooping Brome Grass, Drooping Tor Grass, Dune Fescue, Early Hair-grass, Early Meadow-grass, Early Sand-grass, False Brome Grass, False Oat-grass, Fern Grass, Fine-leaved Sheep's Fescue, Flattened Meadow-grass, Floating Sweet-grass, Foxtail Barley, French Oat, Giant Fescue, Glaucous Meadow-grass, Great Brome Grass, Greater Quaking Grass, Grey Hair-grass, Hairy Brome Grass, Hairy Finger-grass, Hard Fescue, Hard Grass, Harestail Grass, Heath Grass, Holy Grass, Hybrid Marram Grass, Italian Rye Grass, Knotroot Bristlegrass, Lesser Hairy Brome Grass, Lesser Quaking Grass, Loose Silky Bent, Lyme Grass, Marram Grass, Marsh Foxtail, Mat Grass, Mat-grass Fescue, Meadow Barley, Meadow Fescue, Meadow Foxtail, Meadow Oat-grass, Mountain Melick, Narrow-leaved Meadow-grass, Narrow-leaved Small-reed, Neglected Couch Grass, Nit Grass, Orange Foxtail, Pampas Grass, Perennial Rye Grass, Plicate Sweet-grass, Purple Moor-grass, Purple Small-reed, Purple-stem Catstail, Quaking Grass, Ratstail Fescue, Red Fescue, Reed Canary Grass, Reed Sweet-grass, Reflexed Saltmarsh Grass, Rescue Grass, Rough Meadow-grass, Rush-leaved Fescue, Sand Catstail, Scandinavian Small-reed, Scottish Small-reed, Sea Barley, Sea Couch Grass, Sea Fern Grass, Sheep's Fescue, Silver Hair-grass, Six-rowed Barley, Slender Brome Grass, Small Cord-grass, Small Sweet-grass, Smaller Catstail, Smooth Brome Grass, Smooth Cord-grass, Smooth Finger-grass, Smooth Meadow-grass, Soft Brome Grass, Somerset Hair-grass, Sorghum, Spreading Meadow-grass, Squirreltail Fescue, Stiff Brome Grass, Stiff Saltmarsh Grass, Sweet Vernal Grass, Tall Fescue, Timothy Grass, Tor Grass, Tufted Hair-grass, Two-rowed Barley, Upright Brome Grass, Velvet Bent, Viviparous Fescue, Wall Barley, Wavy Hair-grass, Wavy Meadow-grass, Whorl Grass, Wild Oat, Wood Barley, Wood Fescue, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Yellow Oat-grass, Yorkshire Fog
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres tall
Grassland, meadows, rocky places, sand dunes, seaside.

Green, no petals
Similar to Sea Couch (Elytrigia atherica) but with thicker and blunter spikelets. Spikelets are alternate up the stem. The flowers turn from bluish-green to pale yellow with age. Wind pollinated.
The fruit is a caryopsis. A caryopsis is a dry, one-seeded fruit. The seeds ripen in September and October.
Long and narrow, bluish-green leaves. The stems are stiff and round. Perennial.
Other Names:
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Elytrigia juncea, also known as rush-like false wheatgrass, is a species of grass in the genus Elytrigia. It is native to Central Asia and Europe and can be found in a wide range of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, and rocky or gravelly areas. It is a perennial grass that forms dense clumps and can grow to a height of 3 to 5 feet. The leaves are narrow and have a distinctive rush-like appearance. It produces spikes of small, greenish-brown flowers in the summer.

Elytrigia juncea is considered as a valuable forage plant for livestock and wild animals, often grown as a component of grassland mixtures for forage production. It also has been used for soil conservation, erosion control, and other land management purposes. In some regions, it is considered invasive and can outcompete native species, so its planting and spreading should be carefully monitored. It is also found as a weed species in some regions, and it is important to manage its spread in those areas to prevent negative impacts on other plants.


Sand Couch Grass, also known as Elytrigia juncea or Leymus arenarius, is a perennial grass that grows in sandy habitats such as sand dunes, beaches, and salt marshes. It is native to Europe but has been introduced to many parts of the world, including North America, where it is considered an invasive species.


Sand Couch Grass can grow up to 1.5 meters in height and has long, narrow leaves that are blue-green in color. Its inflorescence is a spike-like arrangement of small flowers that bloom from June to August. The plant has a deep, extensive root system that helps it survive in the harsh, sandy environments it inhabits.

Ecological Importance

Despite being considered an invasive species in some regions, Sand Couch Grass plays an important role in stabilizing sand dunes and preventing erosion along beaches and coastlines. Its deep root system helps to anchor sand and stabilize dune formations, which in turn helps to prevent erosion caused by wind and waves. The grass also provides habitat for a variety of insects and small animals.

Cultural Significance

Sand Couch Grass has been used by humans for thousands of years. In Europe, it has been used for thatching roofs and making baskets, while in North America, indigenous peoples used the plant for weaving and making cordage. The roots of the grass have also been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.


In regions where Sand Couch Grass is considered an invasive species, management efforts focus on controlling its spread and preventing further introduction. This may involve manual removal, herbicide application, or other control methods. However, in areas where the grass plays an important ecological role, such as in stabilizing sand dunes, efforts may focus on promoting its growth and health.

More Information about Sand Couch Grass

Sand Couch Grass is a fascinating plant with a rich history and important ecological and cultural significance. While it can be invasive in some regions, it plays a critical role in stabilizing sand dunes and preventing erosion along coastlines. As we continue to grapple with the effects of climate change and rising sea levels, understanding the importance of plants like Sand Couch Grass will be crucial in preserving our natural habitats and protecting our coastlines.

Sand Couch Grass is a hardy and resilient plant that can survive in challenging conditions. It is able to tolerate high levels of salt, making it well-suited to coastal habitats. Its deep root system also allows it to access water and nutrients in sandy soils, which can be nutrient-poor.

Sand Couch Grass is a C3 grass, meaning that it photosynthesizes differently from C4 grasses, which are more commonly found in hot, arid environments. This adaptation allows Sand Couch Grass to survive in cooler and more temperate environments.

In addition to its ecological and cultural significance, Sand Couch Grass has also been the subject of research in various scientific fields. For example, it has been studied for its potential as a biomass crop, which could be used to produce biofuels and other renewable products. Its ability to sequester carbon in its root system has also made it a subject of interest in carbon sequestration research.

Sand Couch Grass is a versatile and important plant with many different applications and roles. Whether it is stabilizing sand dunes, providing habitat for wildlife, or being used in traditional crafts or medicine, this hardy grass is an important part of many ecosystems around the world.

Sand Couch Grass is known for its ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions, making it a valuable species in restoration projects. It has been used in efforts to restore degraded coastal habitats and stabilize eroding sand dunes. By planting Sand Couch Grass, land managers can help prevent further erosion and create a healthier environment for other plant and animal species.

However, it is important to note that while Sand Couch Grass is beneficial in some situations, it can also become invasive and negatively impact native plant communities. In regions where it is not native, Sand Couch Grass can outcompete and displace native vegetation, reducing biodiversity and altering ecosystems. As such, it is important to carefully consider the potential impacts of introducing Sand Couch Grass in restoration projects and manage it accordingly.

Despite its invasive potential, Sand Couch Grass remains an important species in many coastal ecosystems. Its ability to thrive in sandy environments and stabilize dune formations makes it an important component of healthy coastal habitats. By understanding and managing Sand Couch Grass appropriately, we can ensure that it continues to play a valuable role in these environments for years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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