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Wood Barley

Hordeum vulgare ssp. 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.
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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, 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 Fescue, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Yellow Oat-grass, Yorkshire Fog
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Hedgerows, woodland.

Green, no petals
A green flower spike consisting of alternating spikelets on opposite sides of the stem. Its awns are 1.5 to 2.5cm long.
A caryopsis which is a type of dry, one-seeded fruit. About 7mm long, narrowly oval.
Flat, green, linear leaves that are sparsely hairy. Rough on the upper surfaces of the leaves. Not a true barley. Most commonly encountered in Beech woods on lime. Perennial.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Wood barley (Hordeum vulgare ssp. vulgare) is a subspecies of the common barley (Hordeum vulgare) plant that is native to Europe and Asia. 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. Wood barley 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. Wood barley 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.


Wood Barley: A Nutritious and Versatile Whole Grain

Wood barley, also known as Hordeum vulgare ssp. vulgare, is a type of whole grain that has been used for thousands of years for food and drink. Despite its long history of use, barley has only recently been rediscovered as a nutritious and versatile ingredient for modern meals.

Nutrition: Barley is a good source of fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates, making it a great food for maintaining good health. It also contains important vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and vitamin B6.

Versatility: Barley can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and side dishes. It can also be ground into flour for baking and has a hearty, nutty flavor that makes it a popular ingredient for many dishes.

Culinary uses: In addition to its versatility in the kitchen, barley is also a popular ingredient in many traditional recipes, such as barley soup and barley risotto. It can also be used as a substitute for other grains, such as rice or quinoa, in many recipes.

Benefits: Barley has numerous health benefits, including aiding in digestion, reducing cholesterol levels, and stabilizing blood sugar levels. It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it a great food for maintaining overall health.

In conclusion, Wood Barley, or Hordeum vulgare ssp. vulgare, is a nutritious and versatile whole grain that can be used in a variety of dishes and has numerous health benefits. Whether you are looking to add a little variety to your diet or simply want to enjoy the delicious and nutty flavor of barley, it is a great ingredient to have on hand.

Growing and Harvesting Wood Barley

Barley is a hardy grain that can grow in a variety of climates and soil conditions. It is a cool-season crop that is planted in the fall and harvested in the spring. When harvesting, the grain heads are cut and threshed to remove the kernels. The kernels are then cleaned and sorted to remove any impurities.

Health Benefits of Wood Barley

In addition to its nutritional value, barley has numerous health benefits that make it a great food for maintaining good health. Here are just a few of the benefits of consuming barley:

  1. Aids in digestion: Barley is high in fiber, which helps to regulate digestion and prevent constipation.

  2. Reduces cholesterol levels: Studies have shown that consuming barley can help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

  3. Stabilizes blood sugar levels: Barley is a slow-digesting carbohydrate, which means that it releases glucose into the bloodstream slowly and steadily, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels.

  4. Anti-inflammatory properties: Barley has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great food for individuals with conditions such as arthritis or other inflammatory diseases.

  5. Antioxidant properties: Barley is a good source of antioxidants, which help to protect the body against damage from free radicals.

Incorporating Wood Barley into Your Diet

Barley is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are a few ideas for incorporating barley into your diet:

  1. Use barley in soups and stews: Barley is a great ingredient for soups and stews, adding a hearty texture and nutty flavor.

  2. Make barley risotto: Barley can be used as a substitute for rice in risotto, adding a unique and delicious twist to the classic dish.

  3. Add barley to salads: Barley can be added to salads for a crunchy texture and nutty flavor.

  4. Use barley in baking: Barley flour can be used in baking, adding a nutty flavor to baked goods.

In conclusion, Wood Barley, or Hordeum vulgare ssp. vulgare, is a nutritious and versatile ingredient that has numerous health benefits. Whether you are looking to add a little variety to your diet or simply want to enjoy the delicious and nutty flavor of barley, it is a great food to have on hand.

Barley and its Culinary Uses Around the World

Barley has been used as a staple food in many cultures for thousands of years. Its versatility and nutty flavor make it a popular ingredient in many dishes, both traditional and modern. Here are a few examples of how barley is used in different cuisines around the world:

  1. Middle Eastern cuisine: Barley is a popular ingredient in many Middle Eastern dishes, such as kibbeh, a dish made from ground barley, spices, and meat.

  2. Scottish cuisine: Scottish haggis, a traditional dish made from sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, is typically made with barley as the main ingredient.

  3. East Asian cuisine: In Japan, barley is used to make a popular drink called barley tea. It is also used in soups, stews, and other dishes.

  4. African cuisine: In Ethiopia, barley is a common ingredient in injera, a type of sourdough flatbread.

In addition to its use in traditional dishes, barley is also being used in modern cuisine as a nutritious and flavorful ingredient in salads, side dishes, and more.

Barley as a Sustainable Crop

In addition to its many health benefits, barley is also a sustainable crop that is easy to grow and harvest. It requires less water than other grains and can be grown in a variety of soil types, making it a great option for farmers looking for a crop that is both profitable and environmentally friendly.

In conclusion, Wood Barley, or Hordeum vulgare ssp. vulgare, is a nutritious and versatile whole grain that has been used in a variety of cultures and cuisines for thousands of years. Whether you are looking to add a little variety to your diet or simply want to enjoy the delicious and nutty flavor of barley, it is a great ingredient to have on hand. With its numerous health benefits and its status as a sustainable crop, barley is a great food to include in your diet.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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