Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Little Barley: Hordeum pusillum

lbarley4-29.jpg (189072 bytes) Weed Description:  A short winter annual grass that resembles barley or wheat when mature.  Little barley rarely reaches more than 2 feet in height and may occur as a weed of pastures, hay fields, and roadsides in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

Stems:  Little barley ranges from 4 to 24 inches in height.  Stems turn brown in the spring once this plant has matured.  Leaf sheaths are round and usually without hairs but may occasionally have hairs present.  The sheath also has split, overlapping, translucent (hyaline) margins.

Leaves: Leaves are rolled in the bud and without auricles.  Leaf blades may reach as much as 8 inches in length and range from 1 1/2 to 6 mm in width.  Leaves may be without hairs or may have short hairs above and below.  Leaves have a membranous ligule that is cut squarely across the top and not tapered or rounded (truncate).  Ligules are very small and usually range from 0.2 to 0.6 mm in length.

Roots:  A fibrous root system.


ltlebrly6-4.jpg (64823 bytes)
ltlbrly6-4c.jpg (21640 bytes) Flowers:  Seed heads consist of flattened spikes that also turn tan to brown when mature.  Each spikelet contains awns that may range from 2 to 12 mm in length.

Identifying Characteristics:  A small winter annual grass that generally has a bluish-green color like that of many winter small grains.  Additionally, little barley turns distinctly tan to brown in color in the early spring when mature.  These characteristics, along with the grain-like seedhead, help to distinguish little barley from most other winter annuals.