Plant Guide > Grasses > Wall Barley Grass

Wall Barley Grass


The Wall Barley (Hordeum murinum), whose partiality for growing by walls gave to the plant its common name, is a native of Europe, and in this country is infrequently found in waste places.

It is a tufted annual, bearing looser sheaths, narrower, more compressed spikes, and large spikelets than does the Squirrel-tail Grass, but its presence renders hay fully as valueless since the sharp awns, like those of the more common species, penetrate the flesh of sheep and cattle, and occasionally cause death.

An English botanist recorded his earlier achievements in science when he wrote of this grass: "In our youth we put inverted spikes of the Wall Barley up our sleeves and found them travel to our shoulders.

This was caused by the parts of the spikelets being compressible, so that by a gentle motion they progressed upward with a kind of spring; but the barbs, on pulling the spike the contrary way, stuck into the clothes and could not easily be dislodged."