Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Elymus repens  (L.) Gould; old Agropyron repens L. (Beauv.)

Common name(s): quackgrass, couch grass, dog grass, quickgrass, scutch, quitch, twitch, witchgrass, creeping wild-rye

Link(s): USDA PLANTS Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


– perennial

– reproduces by seed and running stalk (rhizomes).

– flowers July to Sept.

– inflorescences are variable – can also have awns of varying length (awns: aka the “bristles” on a head of wheat)

– considered an invasive species

-Stems 1′ to 4′ tall with sheaths usually shorter than internodes

-Leaf blades are 3″ to 12″ long and 1/8″ to 3/8″ wide

  • smooth beneath and rough above. Ligule very short

– may be confused with E. trachycaulus, which does not have rhizomes, or possibly Thinopyrum pycnanthum in ME fields abutting a coastal beach or marsh; see left sidebar on Go Botany webpage


-disturbed sites

-meadows and fields

-shores of rivers



Go Botany. “Elymus Repens (L.) Gould.” Elymus Repens (Creeping Wild-Rye): Go Botany, 2021, gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/elymus/repens/.


Eric T. Doucette, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Biology, MA College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, MA (updated Feb 2018)