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Plant Profile  
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Common Name: Little Barley

Species Name: Hordeum pusillum Nutt.

Plant Type: Grasses & Grass-like

Family Name: Poaceae





Plant Facts  
Origin Native
Duration Annual (or winter annual)
Season Cool
Distribution in the U.S. Central and southern Great Plains, scattered northward, in dry or alkaline soils, particularly in disturbed areas where competition from perennial plants is low
Distribution in Oklahoma Throughout the state



ID Characteristics

  • Field Identification Characteristics


    • Blunt membranous ligule
    • Auricles
    • Leaves are alternate, rough textured to softly hairy, flat and mostly erect
    • Stems are unbranched, smooth; erect to ascending or the lower stem prostrate then rising at the lower node; stems are single to multiple from the base and form loose clumps


    • V-notch at tip of seed heads
    • Seed head long, erect and bristly (awned)
    • Seed head with spikelets on two sides of stem
    • 3 spikelets per node


    • Inflorescence is a raceme, spike-like, narrow, upright and dense.
  • Leaf and Stem Characteristics
    • Plant Height: 15-45 centimeters
    • Ligule Type: Membranous 
    • Sheath: Glabrous; round, smooth or with a few hairs
    • Leaf Type: Simple
    • Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
    • Leaves: Basal and Cauline
    • Stems: Erect to ascending, usually branched, surfaces pubescent with forked hairs
  • Inflorescence Characteristics
    • Spikelet: 3 per node; florets 1; lemmas of lateral spikelets 1/2 to 1/3 as long as the lemma of the central spikelet
    • Awns: Glumes of lateral spikelets awn-like, other glumes awned; lemma of central spikelet awned; lemmas of lateral spikelets short-awned
    • Glumes: narrow at the base, wider above, rough to the touch
  • Floral Characteristics
    • Florets Per Spikelet: 1
    • Glumes: Equal
    • Flower Color: Yellow
    • Flowering time: June-August
    • Flower Shape: Indistinct
    • Cluster Type: Spike
    • Fruit Type: Seed without plume



Soil Type Sterile gravel, sand and clay
Habitat Dry prairies, graveled areas along roadsides, pastures, fallow fields, disturbed areas, sterile waste areas, right-of-ways and playgrounds
Successional Stage Early


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