Water couch

SCIENTIFIC  NAME: Paspalum distichum (formerly P. paspalodes)

CATEGORY: C4  perennial


  • Warm season, mat forming perennial  grass, 5-50 cm tall, spreading by rhizomes and stolons
  • Seedheads consist of two erect  branches 2-7cm long, forming a v-shape with hairs at the junction
  • Spikelets minutely hairy, occurring  in two rows along the branches
  • Flowers late spring to autumn


  • Prefers  heavy clay soils, in or near still or slow flowing fresh water, such as along  river and creek banks, around swamp margins and dams; can withstand dry periods


  • High grazing value
  • Digestibility of  green leaf ranges from 57-72 %
  • Crude protein  8.5-11 %


  • Grows  rapidly when conditions are moist if temperatures are above 20°C
  • Sensitive  to frost, although the effect is reduced if surface water is present
  • Both  stem and leaves provide high quality, palatable feed
  • Useful  coloniser and stabiliser of waterways, but may cause blockages of drainage  channels if not managed
  • Resistant  to stock grazing and trampling, but is sensitive to shading.  Performs best if kept short to reduce  competition from taller species.  Use  short-term grazing to reduce pugging
  • Seedheads  rarely infected by an “ergot” fungus that could poison stock
  • Seed  can be sown, but most often planted using sprigs in late spring and summer.  Sprigs can grow at up to 30cm a week during  summer.  Can also be spread by using seed  bearing hay


  • Couch (Cynodon dactylon) is vegetatively similar, but grows in drier areas  and has a windmill type seedhead

(Water couch growing in dam edge:  H Rose)