Hordeum pusillum Nutt. - Little Barley

Hordeum pusillum plant

Family - Poaceae

Stems - Flowering culms to +/-40cm tall but can be much shorter, multiple from base, erect to ascending, simple, from fibrous roots, glabrous.

Hordeum pusillum baseBase of plant.

Leaves - Leaf blades to +/-10cm long, +/-4mm broad, glabrous to pubescent. Ligule membrenaceous, small, to +/-1.5mm long. Sheaths glabrous to pubescent, open.

Hordeum pusillum liguleArrow shows ligule.

Inflorescence - Dense cylindrical spike of many spikelets, 2-8cm long, -1cm in diameter.

Hordeum pusillum inflorescence

Flowers - Spikelets composed of two smaller sterile florets and one larger fertile floret. Fertile floret central and sterile florets lateral. Awns of lemmas to 8mm long.

Hordeum pusillum spikeletsSpikelets.

Hordeum pusillum spikeletClose-up of individual spikelet.

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Disturbed sites, waste ground, stream banks, pond margins, fallow fields, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This little weedy grass can be found throughout Missouri. The plant is very common and is easy to ID because of its small size and distinctive individual spikelets. As seen in the picture above, the spikelets are composed of two, small sterile florets which are lateral and slightly raised above the central, fertile floret. The fertile floret is much larger than the two sterile florets. The long awns of the lemmas are another character to help identify this grass.

Photographs taken in Van Buren, MO., 6-6-03.


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