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Barley Anatomy

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Image courtesy of USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Hitchcock, A.S. (rev. A. Chase). 1950.
Manual of the grasses of the United States.
USDA Misc. Publ. No. 200. Washington, DC.

Barley anatomy is similar to other grasses. There are differences between the two-rowed and six-rowed varieties related to the fertility of the florets. For each type there are three florets at each node, and in two-rowed barley only the central floret is fertile, whereas in six-rowed all florets are fertile. (6) Although this causes each head of the six-rowed barley to produce more seeds, the two-rowed varieties tend to have more tillers per plant and therefore yield similarly (6).

The main difference between wild barley and cultivated barley is the rachis, which is more brittle in the wild barley and promotes the natural dispersal of seed. (6)

Other links of interest on Barley anatomy:

  1. Barley Germplasm Database, 2003. Barley Database Notes. Barley Germplasm Center, Okayama University, Japan.
  2. 2005. The Barley project, Oregon State University. What is Barley? Accessed April 19, 2006.
  3. Duke, J. A. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished. Hordeum vulgare L.
  4. Gomez-Macpherson, H. 2001. Hordeum vulgare. EcoPort Entity 1232,
  5. Hordeum vulgare. Retrieved April 18, 2006, from the Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database,
  6. Kling, J. 2004. An Introduction to Barley - Notes from CSS 330 World Foods Class. Accessed April 18, 2006.
  7. Plants for a Future database. 2004. Hordeum vulgare Blagdon Cross, Ashwater, Beaworthy, Devon, EX21 5DF, UK. Website: Accessed April 18, 2006.
  8. Small, E. 1999. New crops for Canadian agriculture. p. 15-52. In: J. Janick (ed.), Perspectives on new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.
  9. US Barley genome project. 2005. Accessed April 18, 2006.
  10. U.S. Grains Council (2006) Barley: Genus Hordeum, family poaceae, a cereal grain.
  11. USDA, NRCS, 2006. The PLANTS Database, 6 March 2006. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
  12. Wikipedia contributors (2006). Barley. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 14, 2006
  13. Young, B. 2001. Barley; The Versatile Crop. Southern Illinois University, College of Science, Ethnobotanical Leaflets.