Open the Advanced Search

Six-rowed Barley

Hordeum vulgare

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Poaceae (Grass)
Also in this family:
Alpine Catstail, Alpine Foxtail, Alpine Meadow-grass, Annual Beard-grass, Annual Meadow-grass, Arrow Bamboo, Barren Brome Grass, Bearded Couch Grass, Bearded Fescue, Bermuda Grass, Black Bent, Black Grass, Blue Fescue, Blue Moor-grass, Bog Hair-grass, Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass, Bread Wheat, Bristle Bent, Brown Bent, Brown Sedge, Bulbous Foxtail, Bulbous Meadow-grass, California Brome Grass, Canary Grass, Carnation Sedge, Cocksfoot, Cockspur, Common Bent, Common Cord-grass, Common Millet, Common Reed, Common Saltmarsh Grass, Compact Brome Grass, Corn, Couch Grass, Creeping Bent, Creeping Soft-grass, Crested Dog's-tail, Crested Hair-grass, Cultivated Oat, Curved Hard Grass, Cut Grass, Dense Silky Bent, Downy Oat-grass, Drooping Brome Grass, Drooping Tor Grass, Dune Fescue, Early Hair-grass, Early Meadow-grass, Early Sand-grass, False Brome Grass, False Oat-grass, Fern Grass, Fine-leaved Sheep's Fescue, Flattened Meadow-grass, Floating Sweet-grass, Foxtail Barley, French Oat, Giant Fescue, Glaucous Meadow-grass, Great Brome Grass, Greater Quaking Grass, Grey Hair-grass, Hairy Brome Grass, Hairy Finger-grass, Hard Fescue, Hard Grass, Harestail Grass, Heath Grass, Holy Grass, Hybrid Marram Grass, Italian Rye Grass, Knotroot Bristlegrass, Lesser Hairy Brome Grass, Lesser Quaking Grass, Loose Silky Bent, Lyme Grass, Marram Grass, Marsh Foxtail, Mat Grass, Mat-grass Fescue, Meadow Barley, Meadow Fescue, Meadow Foxtail, Meadow Oat-grass, Mountain Melick, Narrow-leaved Meadow-grass, Narrow-leaved Small-reed, Neglected Couch Grass, Nit Grass, Orange Foxtail, Pampas Grass, Perennial Rye Grass, Plicate Sweet-grass, Purple Moor-grass, Purple Small-reed, Purple-stem Catstail, Quaking Grass, Ratstail Fescue, Red Fescue, Reed Canary Grass, Reed Sweet-grass, Reflexed Saltmarsh Grass, Rescue Grass, Rough Meadow-grass, Rush-leaved Fescue, Sand Catstail, Sand Couch Grass, Scandinavian Small-reed, Scottish Small-reed, Sea Barley, Sea Couch Grass, Sea Fern Grass, Sheep's Fescue, Silver Hair-grass, Slender Brome Grass, Small Cord-grass, Small Sweet-grass, Smaller Catstail, Smooth Brome Grass, Smooth Cord-grass, Smooth Finger-grass, Smooth Meadow-grass, Soft Brome Grass, Somerset Hair-grass, Sorghum, Spreading Meadow-grass, Squirreltail Fescue, Stiff Brome Grass, Stiff Saltmarsh Grass, Sweet Vernal Grass, Tall Fescue, Timothy Grass, Tor Grass, Tufted Hair-grass, Two-rowed Barley, Upright Brome Grass, Velvet Bent, Viviparous Fescue, Wall Barley, Wavy Hair-grass, Wavy Meadow-grass, Whorl Grass, Wild Oat, Wood Barley, Wood Fescue, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Yellow Oat-grass, Yorkshire Fog
Life Cycle:
Annual or Perennial
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Fields, roadsides, wasteland.

Green, no petals
The flower is a pale green spikelet. The spikelets are arranged in groups of 3 rows along the stem of the plant (rachis). The similar-looking Two-Rowed Barley (Hordeum distinchon) are arranged in groups of 2 rows.
An oval caryopsis, 7-10mm long and 2-3mm wide.
An annual grass species with long linear stems. The leaves are alternate.
Other Names:
Common Barley.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Hordeum vulgare, also known as common barley or barley, is a species of grass that is native to Eurasia. It is a cereal grain that is commonly grown for food and animal feed, as well as for use in the production of beer, whiskey, and other alcoholic beverages. Hordeum vulgare is a hardy plant that can grow in a wide range of climates and soil types. It has thin, upright stalks that can reach heights of up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) and has long, narrow leaves that are a bright green color. The plant produces small, inconspicuous flowers that are followed by small, hard seeds that are contained in a hull. Hordeum vulgare is a major crop plant and is one of the most widely cultivated species of barley in the world. It has been grown for thousands of years and is an important food source in many parts of the world.


Six-rowed Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is a cereal grain that belongs to the family Poaceae. This type of barley is so named because of the arrangement of kernels on its spikes which are arranged in six rows. Six-rowed barley is widely cultivated in many parts of the world and is used for a variety of purposes, including livestock feed, malt production, and beer brewing.

One of the key characteristics of six-rowed barley is its higher protein content compared to two-rowed barley, which makes it a popular choice for livestock feed. This type of barley is also well-suited for cultivation in harsh climates and is resistant to disease, making it an ideal crop for farmers in regions with challenging growing conditions.

Another important use of six-rowed barley is in the production of malt, which is a key ingredient in the brewing of beer. The high enzyme content of six-rowed barley makes it ideal for converting starches into sugars, which are then fermented to produce alcohol. In addition to beer, malt is also used in the production of other beverages and food products, such as whiskey, bread, and breakfast cereals.

Aside from its practical uses, six-rowed barley also has a long history of cultivation and has played an important role in the diets of many cultures throughout history. In fact, barley was one of the first crops to be domesticated in the Fertile Crescent and has been used as a food staple for thousands of years.

In addition to its uses, six-rowed barley is also highly valued for its nutritional benefits. It is a rich source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, and magnesium. It is also low in fat and contains a moderate amount of carbohydrates, making it a healthy and balanced food for people of all ages.

Another interesting fact about six-rowed barley is that it is a hybrid of two other types of barley, Hordeum distichon and Hordeum spontaneum. This hybridization process is believed to have occurred naturally, and the resulting plant has the best characteristics of both its parent plants. This hybridization is what gives six-rowed barley its higher protein content and makes it a superior crop for livestock feed and malt production.

There are also a number of different varieties of six-rowed barley that have been developed over the years. Some of these varieties are specifically bred for their resistance to disease, while others are designed to produce higher yields or to have a more desirable flavor profile. In addition to these varieties, there are also specialty types of six-rowed barley that are used for specific purposes, such as malting barley for beer brewing, or feed barley for livestock.

Another important aspect of six-rowed barley is its environmental impact. As a cereal grain, barley is relatively low-input in terms of water and fertilizer, making it an environmentally-friendly crop. It also has a relatively short growing season, which allows farmers to rotate their crops and maintain soil health. This helps to reduce the need for chemical inputs, such as pesticides and herbicides, and can help to improve soil health and fertility over time.

Moreover, barley is a versatile crop that can be grown in a variety of climates, from cold and dry regions to warm and humid environments. This versatility makes it an ideal crop for farmers in many parts of the world and helps to provide food and income for communities that may have limited options for agriculture.

Aside from its environmental benefits, six-rowed barley is also a culturally important crop. As mentioned earlier, it has a long history of cultivation and has been an important staple food in many cultures throughout history. In addition, barley is a key ingredient in the production of beer, which has been enjoyed by people for thousands of years and continues to play an important role in many cultures and communities today.

In conclusion, six-rowed barley is a valuable crop that has a significant impact on the environment, economy, and culture. From its use as livestock feed and malt production, to its role in beer brewing and as a staple food, six-rowed barley is an important and versatile crop that is widely cultivated and enjoyed around the world. Whether you are a farmer, a brewer, or simply a consumer, it is important to appreciate the many benefits and uses of this important cereal grain.


Six-rowed Barley filmed at Bourton-on-the-water and Clapton-on-the-hill in the Cotswolds on the 26th June 2023.


Please remember to Like and Subscribe to the WildFlowerWeb YouTube channel at

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map