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Weed Identification

little barley



Scientific Name

Hordeum pusillum

Other Common Names:

little wildbarley

Synonyms (former Scientific Names):

Hordeum pusillum
Critesion pusillum


Leaves: Leaves are rolled in the bud and without auricles. Leaf blades may reach as much as 8 inches in length and range from 1 1/2 to 6 mm in width. Leaves may be without hairs or may have short hairs above and below. Leaves have a membranous ligule that is cut squarely across the top and not tapered or rounded (truncate). Ligules are very small and usually range from 0.2 to 0.6 mm in length. Roots: A fibrous root system.

Identifying Characteristics

Little barley ranges from 4 to 24 inches in height. Stems turn brown in the spring once this plant has matured. Leaf sheaths are round and usually without hairs but may occasionally have hairs present. The sheath also has split, overlapping, translucent (hyaline) margins.A small winter annual grass that generally has a bluish-green color like that of many winter small grains. Additionally, little barley turns distinctly tan to brown in color in the early spring when mature. These characteristics, along with the grain-like seedhead, help to distinguish little barley from most other winter annuals.

Flower Seed Head

Seed heads consist of flattened spikes that also turn tan to brown when mature. Each spikelet contains awns that may reach 1/2in in length.

Where Found

Little barley rarely reaches more than 2 feet in height and may occur as a weed of pastures, hay fields, and roadsides in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

Leaf Hair on Upper Surface

no hairs
hairs on basal half only

Leaf Arrangement

rolled in bud

Mature Leaf Width

less than 5 mm


flat or oval



Root Structure


Life Cycle

winter annual


not present



Ligule Length

less than 1 mm

Plant Type