36. Hordeum distichon, Linn.—Two-rowed or Long-eared Barley.

Botanical name: 

Fig. 204. Hordeum or Barley. Sex. Syst. Triandria, Digynia.
(Semen tunicis nudatum, L.—Decorticated Seeds, E. D.)

History. Pliny [Hist. Nat. xviii. 14.], on the authority of Menander, says barley (hordeum) was a most ancient aliment of mankind. It was cultivated in Egypt nearly 1500 years before Christ [Exodus, ix. 31.]. Hippocrates mentions three kinds of κριδή or barley; namely, barley simply so called [De victus rat. lib. ii. p. 355, ed. Foesii.], three-month barley [De morb. mul. lib. i. p. 609.], and Achilles barley [De morbis, lib. iii. p. 496.]. These probably were H. vulgare, H. distichon, H. hexastichon.

Botany. Gen. Char.Spikelets three together, the lateral ones usually withered, two-flowered, with an upper flower reduced to a subulate rudiment. Glumes two, lanceolate-linear, with subulate awns, flattish, unequal sided, at right angles [contrariae], with the paleae almost unilateral, turned inwards [anticae], herbaceous, rigid. Paleae two, herbaceous; the inferior one (turned inwards) concave, ending in an awn; the superior one (turned outward) contiguous to the rachis, bicarinate. Stamina three. Ovarium hairy at the apex. Stigmata two, sessile, somewhat terminal, feathery. Scales two, entire or augmented by a lateral lobe, usually hairy or ciliated. Caryopsis hairy at the point, oblong, with a longitudinal furrow internally, adherent to the paleae, rarely free (Kunth).

Sp. Char.—The lateral florets male, awnless; the hermaphrodite ones distichous, close pressed to the stem, awned (Kunth).

β With naked seeds; H. nudum; Naked two-rowed Barley.—The grains of this variety separate from the paleae or chaff like wheat.

Hab.—A native of Tartary, cultivated in this country.

Several sorts of this species are in cultivation: such as the common two-rowed or English barley, the Chevalier barley, the Annat barley, Dunlop barley, golden or Italian barley, and black two-rowed barley (Hordeum distichon nigrum).

Besides H. distichon, several other species of Hordeum are in cultivation—namely, H. vulgare or Spring Barley; H. hexastichon, or Six-rowed Barley; and H. Zeocitron, Sprat or Battledore Barley.

Description.—The grains (caryopsides vel semina hordei cruda) are too well known to need description. As found in commerce, they are usually enclosed in the paleae or husk. Deprived of their husk by a mill, they form Scotch, hulled, or pot barley (hordeum mundatum). When all the integuments o fthe grains are removed, and the seeds are rounded and polished, they constitute pearl barley (hordeum perlatum). The farina (farina hordei) obtained by grinding pearl barley to powder is called patent barley.

Three qualities of barley are distinguished in the market: the hard and flinty, fit for making pot barley; a softer kind, called malting barley, which is next in value; and feeding barley, which is adapted for neither of the uses of the two other kinds.

Composition.—According to Einhof [L. Gmelin's Handb. d. Chemie, ii. 1344.], barley has the following composition:—

The Ripe Seeds. Barley-meal.
Meal 70.05 Starch 67.18
Husk 18.75 Fibrous matter (gluten, starch, and lignin) 7.29
Moisture 11.20 Gum 4.62

100.00 Sugar 5.21

Gluten 3.52
Albumen 1.15
Phosphate of lime with albumen 0.24
Moisture 9.37
Loss 1.42


Payen's analysis of barley has been already given (see ante, p. 106), as also the proportion of starch and proteine constituents according to Krocker and Horsford (see vol. i. p. 116). Mr. Johnston [Lect. on Agricultural chemistry, p. 881. 2d. edit. 1847.] gives the following as the average composition of fine barley-meal: Starch 68; gluten, albumen, &c. 14; fatty matter 2; saline matter or ash 2; water 14=100.

1. Proteine Compounds.—The proportion of proteine matter in barley is much less than that in wheat, and its quality is very different. If barley dough be washed with water, nearly the whole is washed away, the husk alone excepted: it contains, therefore, little or no gluten properly so called. The milky liquid deposits starchy matter and an insoluble proteine matter (insoluble caseine?), while the clear liquid holds in solution a small quantity of albumen (coagulable by heat), and of caseine (precipitable by acetic acid). If the starchy deposit be digested with water containing ammonia, a solution of the proteine compound is obtained, from which a voluminous precipitate (caseine?) is thrown down by acetic acid. (Johnston.)
2. Starch.—Barley starch, like wheat starch, consists principally of large and small grains, with but few of intermediate size: but the diameter of the largest grains is somewhat larger than that of the corresponding grains of wheat starch. [The following measurements of seven (including the largest and smallest) grains of barley starch were made by Mr. George Jackson:— 1: 0.0011 of an English inch. 2: 0.0010. 3: 0.0009. 4: 0.0008. 5: 0.0005. 6: 0.0002. 7: 0.0001.] The shape of the larger grains is irregularly circular, or elliptical, or obscurely triangular, flattened or lenticular, the flattened surfaces being undulated or uneven: the smaller grains are globular, ellipsoidal, rarely angular or mullarshaped. The hilum is scarcely, if at all, perceptible on the larger grains, and the rings are very faintly indicated: in these respects the grains of barley starch differ remarkably from those of rye starch. On the smaller grains, a hilum, or what appears to be such, is frequently perceptible. By polarized light the cross is less distinctly seen than in rye starch. Barley starch offers more resistance to the action of boiling water than some other starches; and the insoluble residue, after the prolonged ebullition of it in water, constitutes what Proust [Ann. Chim. Phys. v. 339.] called hordeine.
3. Fatty or Oily Matter.—Fourcroy and Vauquelin [Ann. de Mus. d'Hist. Nat. No. xxxvii. p. 8.] detected a yellow, acrid, saponifiable, butyraceous oil, in barley.

Chemical Characteristics.—Iodine forms the blue iodide of starch, when added to the cold decoction of barley. Decoction of whole barley has an acrid bitter taste, which it derives from the husk.

Physiological Effects.—Barley is a valuable nutritive. Considered in relation to wheat, it offers several peculiarities. In the first place it contains much less proteine matter; in other words, less of the flesh-and-blood-making principles; though Count Rumford [Essay on Feeding the Poor, 1800.] considered barley-meal in soup three or four times as nutritious as wheat-flour.

Secondly, its starch offers more resistance to the action of the gastric juice, in consequence of its more difficult solubility in water. Thirdly, its husk is slightly acrid; and, therefore, this should be removed from barley intended for dietetical purposes, as in Scotch and pearl barley. Fourthly, barley-meal is more laxative than wheat-meal.

Uses.—Barley is employed both dietetically and medicinally; as well also in the brewery and distillery.

Barley-meal is sometimes added to three times its weight of wheat-meal to form infant's food; the addition of the barley-meal being intended to obviate the constipating effects of wheat-meal.

Scotch and pearl barley are employed to thicken soups, and to yield barley water. It is frequently used in the dietaries of pauper establishments; but when bowel complaints prevail, some other cereal grain (wheat, for example) should be substituted for it.

1. DECOCTUM HORDEI, L. D. [U. S.]; Aqua hordeata; Barley Water.—(Barley [pearl barley] ℥iiss [℥iss, D.); Water Oivss [Oiss, D. (Barley ℥ij; Water Oivss, U. S.)].)—First wash away, with water, any foreign matters adhering to the barley seeds; then, half a pint of the water being poured on them, boil the seeds a little while. This water being thrown away, pour the remainder of the water, first made hot, on them, and boil down to two pints, and strain, L.—This is a valuable demulcent and emollient drink for the invalid in febrile cases and inflammatory disorders, especially of the chest and urinary organs. It is sometimes given to children as a slight laxative. It is usually flavoured with sugar, and frequently with some slices of lemon. It is a constituent of the Enema Aloes, L., Enema Terebinthinae, L., and Decoctum Hordei compositum, L.

The MUCILAGO HORDEI, Ph. D., is prepared with Ground Pearl Barley ℥ss; Water f℥xvj.

2. DECOCTUM HORDEI COMPOSITUM, L.; Mistura Hordei, E.; Decoctum Pectorale; Compound Decoction of Barley; Pectoral Decoction.—(Decoction of Barley Oij; Figs, sliced, ℥iiss; Liqurice [root] sliced and bruised ʒv; Raisins [stoned] ℥iiss [and Distilled Water Oj, L.]. Boil down to two pints, and strain.—The process of the Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia is essentially the same.)—This decoction is emollient, demulccnt, and slightly aperient. It is employed in the same cases as the simple decoction.

3. BYNE (βύνη); Brasium; Maltum; Malt.—This is barley which has been made to germinate by moisture and warmth, and afterwards dried, by which the vitality of the seed is destroyed.—By this process part of the proteine matter of the barley is converted into diastase. This, although it does not constitute more than about 1/500th of the malt, serves to effect the conversion of about 40 per cent, of the starch of the seed into grape-sugar, or gum (dextrine). The grain loses by the operation of malting about 8 per cent. of its weight, and gains about 1/11th or 1/12th in bulk. This loss arises in part from the separation of the radicles in the form of malt-dust or cummins. The colour of the malt varies with the temperature at which it is dried. If the temperature does not exceed 100° F., the result is pale malt; if it be above this and does not exceed 180°, the result is amber malt. These varieties of malt yield fermentable infusions. Brown or blown malt dried at 260° F. is used to communicate flavour; while roasted, burned, or high-dried malt, which has been scorched, is employed for colouring porter.

The infusion of malt (infusum bynes), commonly called sweet-wort, contains saccharine matter, starch, glutinous matter, and mucilage. It is nutritious and laxative, and has been used as an antiscorbutic and tonic. Macbride [Hist. Account of a new Method of Treating Scurvy, 1767.] recommended it in scurvy [See also a paper by Dr. Badenoch, Med. Obs. and Inq. vol. v. p. 61.]; but it is apt to increase the diarrhoea. As a tonic it has been used in scrofulous affections, purulent discharges, as from the kidneys, lungs, &c., and in pulmonary consumption [Rush, Med. Observ. and Inq. iv. 367.]. The decoction (decoctum bynes) is prepared by boiling three ounces of malt in a quart of water. This quantity may be taken daily.

4. CERVISIA [Pliny (Hist. Nat. lib. xxii. cap. 82, ed. Valp.), in noticing the drinks prepared from corn, says that "Zythum is made in Egypt, celia and ceria in Spain, and cervisia and many more sorts, in Gaul." For cervisia, some writers use the term cerevisia. Zythum (ζύθος) was a kind of beer obtained by fermentation from barley. (See Herodotus, lib. ii. cap. 77.) As cervisia was made from unmalted barley, its colour would be pale, and it would, therefore, in this respect, agree with our ale. But the ale and beer of the present day differ from the ancient cervisia in being flavoured with hops,and hence the phrase cervisia lupulata, which is sometimes applied to them.]; Ale and Beer.—By the fermentation of an infusion of malt and hops are obtained ale and beer. These liquids consist of alcohol, sugar, mucilage, an extractive and bitter principle, fatty matter, aroma (volatile oil?), glutinous matter, lactic and carbonic acids, salts, and water. Common beer contains about 1 per cent., strong ale or beer about 4 per cent., best brown stout 6 per cent., and the strongest ale about 8 per cent, of spirit of sp. gr. 0.825. The ashes of beer consist of potash, soda, lime, chlorine, sulphuric acid, phosphoric acid, and silica [Dickson, Phil. Mag. and Journal of Science, vol. xxxiii. p. 341, 1848.].

Beer is a thirst-quenching, refreshing, exhilarating, intoxicating, and slightly nutritious beverage [For further details respecting the nutritive and dietetical properties of beer, see the author's Treatise on Diet, p. 415, et seq.].

α Ale [Ale, in Saxon eale or ealo (probably from the word celia, before mentioned), is sometimes Latinized, ala or alla.] is prepared with pale malt. It is, therefore, lighter coloured; and, when made with an equal weight of malt, is richer in alcohol, sugar, and gum, than porter or stout. Pale or bitter ale, brewed for the India market, has been carefully fermented so as to be devoid of saccharine matter, and contains an extra quantity of the active principles of hops. It is frequently used as a restorative beverage for invalids and convalescents.

β Porter (the stronger kinds of which are called stout) owes its dark colour to high-dried or charred malt. When fresh or new, it is said to be mild; and, when old and acid, is called hard. An extract of cocculus indicus, called black extract or hard multum, is occasionally used by dishonest dealers to augment its intoxicating quality. For medicinal purposes bottled porter (cervisia lagenaria) is usually preferred to draught porter. It is used as a restorative in the latter stages of fever, and to support the powers of the system after surgical operations, severe accidents, &c.

The Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Vol. II, 3th American ed., was written by Jonathan Pereira in 1854.