Foxtail Barley (Hordeum jubatum)

Foxtail barley grows in most of the US, and is cousin to Market Economy barley. It is pretty much a pioneer species or an invader under water stress.

Foxtail Barley (Hordeum jubatum)

Foxtail Barley (Hordeum jubatum)

Foxtail Barley is eaten by mule deer, elk, and cattle early in the season, but the seeds have vicious awns that mature into barbs that embed in the unwary, causing irritation, abscesses, and blindness.  One of my chickens got one in her eye when she first got here, and I had to hold her down to pull it out.  It healed okay but I am not sure if she is blind in that eye.

Ripe Foxtail Barley

Ripe Foxtail Barley

The awns spread when ripe, and as soon as the stem starts turning brown, you can harvest.  They fall right off.

The seeds are small but edible. Roasted, they make a coffee substitute.  Ground, add to flour in any recipe.  It is barley without the Market Economy bulk calories.

I collected the first ripe seed heads around my house this morning, a small percentage. I just dropped them in a Homer bucket and will keep collecting until they all ripen.  The best way to get rid of plants is to eat them or their seeds, and I will.  Foxtail Barley is a perennial, so this takes time.  Not to mention incoming seeds because they are common here.  Foxtail Barley is pretty enough it is planted in front of businesses in town.

I don’t want to eradicate Foxtail Barley, but I do plan to minimize them.  My Papillon also gets these stuck into him and I am glad he hasn’t been blinded, his head is right even with these 1 foot wonders.  I will reduce Foxtail Barley close to my house and the best way is to eat the seed and plant competitors… in this case I planted Winterfat in the same area.

About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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2 Responses to Foxtail Barley (Hordeum jubatum)

  1. Helen, I know! I was such a bad mom. I had to hold her under my arm and keep her head still while I pulled it out and it was stuck hard. Poor baby. I sprayed vinegar on all foxtail barley inside the fence, no more for the baby eyes. The ones I am limiting are along the trail I use with my Little Guy.

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