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Cultivated Oat

Avena sativa

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, 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, Six-rowed Barley, 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:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Fields, meadows, roadsides, wasteland.

Green, no petals
Spikelets, reaching 25mm in length. 3 anthers. Differs from Wild Oat (Avena fatua) in that the awns are often straight. Wind pollinated.
Drooping, slender-stalked fruit, hairy all over and growing in open panicles. Its seeds ripen from August to October.
An annual grass. It's simple, alternate leaves are long and linear in shape.
Other Names:
Common Oat.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Avena sativa, commonly known as oat, is a species of cereal grain grown for its seed, which is known by the same name. It is a member of the grass family and is grown as a crop primarily for human consumption. Oats are a good source of dietary fiber and contain more protein than most cereals. They are also used as animal feed, as well as in the production of oat milk and other oat-based food products.


Oats, scientifically known as Avena sativa, are one of the most widely cultivated crops in the world, and have been a staple food source for humans and livestock for thousands of years. In this blog, we will explore the fascinating history and characteristics of this important crop.


The exact origins of cultivated oats are somewhat unclear, as wild oats have been found in many regions of the world. However, it is generally believed that they originated in the Fertile Crescent region of the Near East, where they were first domesticated over 3,000 years ago. From there, they spread to other parts of the world, including Europe and North America, where they are now widely cultivated.


Oats are a type of cereal grain, similar to wheat and barley, and are grown primarily for their seeds. They are an annual plant, meaning that they complete their life cycle in a single growing season, and can reach heights of up to four feet. The seeds, or "oat groats," are enclosed in a tough outer husk, which must be removed before they can be eaten.

Oats are a highly nutritious crop, containing a variety of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are particularly rich in beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health. Oats also contain antioxidants, which can help protect against oxidative damage and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.


Oats are primarily used as a food crop, and can be eaten in a variety of forms, including as oatmeal, porridge, granola, and oat flour. They are also used as a feed crop for livestock, particularly horses and poultry.

In addition to their nutritional value, oats are also valued for their versatility and adaptability. They can be grown in a wide range of climates and soil types, and are relatively tolerant of cold and wet conditions. This makes them an important crop for farmers in many parts of the world.

In conclusion, cultivated oats (Avena sativa) are a fascinating and important crop with a rich history and many valuable characteristics. They are highly nutritious, versatile, and adaptable, and are grown and consumed in many different parts of the world. Whether eaten as a delicious and healthy breakfast cereal, or used to feed livestock, oats will continue to play an important role in human and animal nutrition for years to come.

Additional Information about the Oat plant

The cultivation of oats has had a significant impact on human history, particularly in Europe and North America. Oats were an important food crop for early settlers in these regions, as they were easy to grow and store, and provided a reliable source of nutrition. They were also used to feed horses, which were essential for transportation and agriculture.

Oats have also played a role in traditional medicine, particularly in Europe. Oat straw, the dried stems and leaves of the oat plant, has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments, including insomnia, anxiety, and skin conditions.

Today, oats are grown and consumed around the world, and are a popular health food due to their high nutritional value. They are often included in vegan and vegetarian diets as a source of protein and fiber, and are also used in gluten-free products as an alternative to wheat.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in "naked" oats, which are a type of oat variety that lacks the tough outer husk found on traditional oats. Naked oats are easier to process and have a milder flavor than regular oats, making them a popular choice for specialty foods such as oat milk and oat-based snacks.

In addition to their nutritional and cultural significance, oats also play an important role in sustainable agriculture. They are a hardy crop that requires relatively few inputs, such as fertilizer and pesticides, compared to other cereal grains. They also have a low carbon footprint, as they require less water and energy to grow and process.

Furthermore, oats can be used in crop rotation systems to help improve soil health and reduce erosion. They have a fibrous root system that can help prevent soil compaction and improve soil structure, and their residue can be used as a natural fertilizer for subsequent crops.

Another benefit of oats is their ability to grow in cool and wet conditions. This makes them an ideal crop for areas with short growing seasons or challenging weather conditions, where other crops may struggle to thrive.

In conclusion, cultivated oats (Avena sativa) are an important and versatile crop with many benefits. From their nutritional value and traditional uses to their role in sustainable agriculture, oats continue to be an essential part of human culture and food systems. As we continue to face global challenges such as climate change and food insecurity, oats may play an even greater role in feeding the world sustainably and nutritiously.

Some Fun Facts about the Cultivated Oat plant

  1. Oats are a cereal grain and a member of the grass family.
  2. They are an annual plant, meaning they complete their life cycle in one growing season.
  3. Oats are one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world, dating back over 3,000 years.
  4. The largest producer of oats is Russia, followed by Canada and Australia.
  5. Oats can be grown in a wide range of climates and soil types.
  6. They are a highly nutritious crop, containing protein, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
  7. Oats are a rich source of beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that has been shown to improve heart health.
  8. They are often eaten as oatmeal, porridge, or granola.
  9. Oats can also be used to make oat flour, which is gluten-free and often used in baking.
  10. Oats are a popular food choice for vegans and vegetarians, as they are a good source of protein and fiber.
  11. Oat straw has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments, including insomnia and anxiety.
  12. Oats can help reduce cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control.
  13. They are used to feed livestock, particularly horses and poultry.
  14. Oats are a low-carbon-footprint crop, requiring relatively few inputs compared to other cereal grains.
  15. They can be used in crop rotation systems to improve soil health and reduce erosion.
  16. Oats have a fibrous root system that helps prevent soil compaction and improve soil structure.
  17. They can be grown in cool and wet conditions, making them ideal for areas with short growing seasons.
  18. Oats are harvested using a combine harvester, which separates the seeds from the husks.
  19. The husks are often used as animal feed or bedding material.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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