Plant Guide > Grasses > Barley Grass

Barley Grass

Barley GrassOccasionally a few grains of the cultivated barley (Hordeum sativum) are dropped by our waysides, and in midsummer the spike-like heads of this grass appear, rigidly erect, and armed with straight awns which are sometimes half a foot in length.

This grain, celebrated by Pliny who called it the most ancient food of older days, is still the most important cereal of the far North, and may be raised nearer the Arctic circle than any other grain, with the exception of rye.

The early Britons cultivated barley and held barley bread in high esteem, but since a statute in the reign of Edward II ordered that, "considering that wheate made into malte is much consumed, ordayned that henceforth it should be made of other graine," barley, under force of this ancient edict, has come to be the great brewing grain, and little is now heard of "bannocks o' barley meal."