- Major entries:
- Hordeum distichon Linn. Barley.
- Hordeum hexastichon Linn. Six-Lined Barley. Winter Barley.
- Hordeum vulgare Linn. Bere. Big Barley. Nepal Barley.
Hordeum deficiens Steud. Gramineae. Red Sea Barley.
Abyssinia. This is one of the two-rowed barleys cultivated in Arabia and Abyssinia.
Parent of cultivated forms. This is the common barley of cultivation and occurs in numerous varieties. Meyer found it growing wild between Lenkoran and Baku; Koch, on the Steppes of Schirwan in the southeast of the Caucasus; Kotschy, in South Persia. Forster reports it as wild in the region near the confluence of the Samara and the Volga. Barley was cultivated, says Pickering, at the time of the invention of writing and standing crops are figured under the fifth, seventh and seventeenth dynasties of Egypt, or about 2440 B. C., 1800 B. C. and 1680 B. C. It is mentioned as among the things that were destroyed by the plagues of Egypt. The flour of barley was the food of the Jewish soldiers. The Egyptians claimed that barley was the first of the cereals made use of by man and trace its introduction to their goddess, Isis. Barley was in all times considered by the Greeks, says Heer, as a sacred grain and was exclusively used in sacrifices and in the great festival held every year at Eleusis in honor of agriculture. Pliny terms it antiquissimum frumentum, the most ancient cereal, but, according to Suetonius, it was considered an ignominious food by the Romans. Common barley, says Unger, came to Europe by the way of Egypt; and the Romans were acquainted with the two- and the six-lined barley, and the Greeks with these varieties and the bere barley. Barley was long the grain most extensively cultivated in England. It appears on the coins of the early Britons and was not only the grain from which their progenitors, the Cimbri, made their bread but from which they made their favorite beverage, beer. Herodotus describes beer made from barley as among the drinks of the Egyptians in his day, 450 B. C., and Pliny, Aristotle, Strabo and Diodorus mention beer. Xenophon, 400 B. C., writes that the people of Armenia used a drink made of fermented barley. Diodorus Siculus says the natives of Galatia prepared a beer from barley, and barley is mentioned in Greece by Sophocles, Dioscorides and others. Tacitus, about A. D. 100, says beer was the common drink of the Germans.
Barley was sown by Gosnold on Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands in 1602. Lescarbot sowed barley at Port Royal, Nova Scotia, in 1606, and it was growing in Champlain's garden at Quebec in 1610. Barley was grown by the colonists of the London Company in Virginia in 1611. It appears to have been cultivated in the New Netherlands in 1626. In 1629-33, barley was growing at Lynn, Massachusetts.
Barley can be grown in sheltered valleys as far north as 70° in Lapland and 68° in Siberia. At Fort Yukon, Alaska, it has been grown in small patches, according to Dall.
Europe and Asia. This barley is supposed by Lindley to be a domesticated form of H. distichon. Unger says the six-lined, or winter barley, was cultivated by the Egyptians, Jews and East Indians in the earliest times and grains of it are found in the mummies of the Egyptian catacombs. Ears are somewhat numerous, says Lubbock, in the ancient lake habitations of Switzerland. In the ears from Wangen, each row has generally ten or eleven grains, which, however, are smaller and shorter than those now grown. There are now in cultivation numerous varieties referred to this form.
Hordeum jubatum Linn. Maned Barley. Squirrel-Tail Barley.
Seashore and interior salines of the New World. The seeds are especially in request among the Shoshones of southern Oregon. The maned, or squirrel-tail, barley has been known in British gardens since 1782 as an ornamental grass. Its awned spikes are dangerous to cattle.
This species furnished the varieties known as bere, or big barley, and appears to be one of the varieties formerly cultivated in Greece. Its native land seems unknown, although Olivier states it grew wild in the region between the Euphrates and the Tigris. Willdenow is inclined to place its native country in the region of the Volga. It is enumerated by Thunberg among the edible plants of Japan. It is cultivated in Scotland as a spring crop and in Ireland as a winter crop. Nepal barley is cultivated at great elevations on the Himalaya Mountains and in Thibet. The seed has frequently been sent to Europe as a very hardy kind, of quick maturity, but it is chiefly cultivated in botanical gardens. It is a naked-seeded species with much the appearance of wheat. It was introduced into Britain in 1817.
Hordeum zeocriton Linn. Battledore Barley. Sprat Barley.
Parent of cultivated forms. This species is occasionally cultivated in Scotland, and Lindley says it is interesting only from a botanical point of view. He says it is an undoubted result of domestication. Koch collected in the Schirwan part of the Caucasus a kind of grain which he calls H. spontaneum and regards as the original wild form of sprat barley.
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.