Scientific Name: Hordeum vulgare

Common Name: common barley

Synonyms: Hordeum aegiceras, Hordeum distichon, Hordeum hexastichon, Hordeum hexastichum, Hordeum irregulare, Hordeum sativum, Hordeum vulgare ssp. hexastichon, Hordeum vulgare var. trifurcatum

Habit: Barley is an upright, winter annual that can reach up to 4 feet tall.

Leaves: Leaves for common barley are flat, oftentimes hairless, and tend to curl in a clockwise. They are thin, usually less than half an inch thick. Ligules are membranous and around a tenth of an inch tall. Barley also has large clasping auricles.

Identifying Characteristics: Barley is recognizable for it's large membranous ligule in relation to its size, long, clasping auricles, and the clockwise twist in the leaf blades.

Flower Seed Head: Barley seed heads are an erect spike which can have awns. The spike is approximately 1-3 inches tall, not including the awns. Barley will either have 4 or 6 rows of seeds on the inflorescence.

Seed Fruit: Barley grains are a caryopsis, a single dry grain, that is tan in color.

Where Found: Barley is cultivated for grain but it can also be a weed in fields and on roadsides and other noncrop land.

  • Life cycle: winter annual

  • Plant type: Grass

  • Auricle: present

  • Plant family: Poaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: rolled in bud

  • Hair surface: hairs on basal half only; no hairs

  • Ligule: membrane

  • Length: 1-2 mm; 2-3 mm

  • Root structure: fibrous

  • Seed head: spike

  • Width: 6 to 15 mm; less than 5 mm

  • Grass stem: flat or oval