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Genus Hordeum Family Poaceae
Common Name: Barley Grasses

Description: Erect or decumbent annuals or perennials.

Leaves with ligule membranous, short, translucent; blade rolled in bud, flat; usually with short spreading auricles.

Inflorescence a dense cylindrical, bristly spike; spikelets arranged in triplets in the alternate notches of the axis.

Spikelets with 1 floret, central spikelet of triplet bisexual and sessile, the 2 lateral spikelets usually male and pedicellate, occasionally all 3 bisexual, rachilla often prolonged; triplet falling entire. Glumes placed side by side in front of the spikelet, persistent, narrow, hardened, 1–3-nerved, tip extended into a rough awn. Lemma lanceolate, hardened, widely rounded on back, 5-nerved, with a bristle-like, long, stiff awn. Palea as long as lemma, narrow, 2-keeled, deeply folded between the keels.

Photo D. Hardin

Distribution and occurrence: World: 20 species, temperate regions, America, C Asia, Europe, Mediterranean region. Australia: 7 species (naturalized), all States.

Barley is widely grown human and animal food and for the production of malt for the brewing industry. The Barley Grasses have become naturalized and are serious weeds in many countries; although their sharp 'seeds' injure stock, they supply early spring grazing.

Text by S. W. L. Jacobs & K. L. McClay
Taxon concept: Flora of NSW, Vol 4; Grasses of NSW 4th edition.

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Hordeum bulbosum

 Key to the species 
1Rachis tough, not disarticulating at the nodes at maturity2
Rachis fragile, breaking up below each node at maturity3
2All spikelets of the triplet fertileHordeum vulgare
Only the central spikelet of the triplet fertile
                       Back to 1
Hordeum distichon
3Leaves with auricles; glumes of central spikelets long ciliate (long hairs on margins)4
Auricles absent; glumes of central spikelet scabrid or smooth
                       Back to 1
4Anthers of central spikelet 0.7–1.4 mm long, pale and exserted at maturityHordeum leporinum
Anthers on central spikelet usually black, 0.2–0.5 mm long and not exserted
                       Back to 3
Hordeum glaucum
5Lateral spikelets with bristle-like glumes, both similar; hairs on leaf sheaths c. 2.5 mm longHordeum hystrix
Lateral spikelets with 1 bristle-like glume and the other broadly winged at the base; hairs on the leaf sheaths c. 0.3 mm long
                       Back to 3
Hordeum marinum

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