Hordeum vulgare spp. spontaneum is commonly known as “wild barley” or “spontaneous barley”. It is the wild form of the grass in the family Poaceae that gave rise to the cereal barley. The seed for this strain was collected in Israel.
I started these as transplants and set out into beds on April 22. The plants grew to about 3 1/2 foot tall and had a moderate number of “grain bearing” tillers (6 – 8). Flowering occurred in mid-June and the plants were harvested on July 4th. I did support the plants to mitigate lodging during periods of heavy rainfall. This variety produces small, hulled seed on grain heads with extremely long awns. The grain heads also break apart quite easily when harvesting due to a brittle rachis, which is characteristics of its wild nature and enhances its survival and seed dispersal. The overall yield for wild barley is far less than that of domesticated types.
Wild barley is native to North Africa, the Middle East, parts of the Indian subcontinent and south west China. Wild barley had been used in breeding experiments, especially where the goal is to improve overall drought tolerance in cultivated varieties. I am curious about the possible use of wild barley in malting.