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Hordeum pusillum (Little barley)
Strickland, Sam C.

Hordeum pusillum

Hordeum pusillum Nutt.

Little Barley

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Critesion pusillum, Hordeum pusillum var. pubens

USDA Symbol: hopu

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

An annual grass with each stem bearing an unbranched, erect, flattened, bristly spike of narrow, crowded, greenish-brown spikelet.

Although now widespread in the United States, this relative of the cultivated Barley (H. vulgare) was probably originally native only in the southern states. In some areas it is extremely abundant, becoming especially conspicuous when the plants mature, which they do quickly, and turn brown; at that stage the spikes break up into short sections.


From the Image Gallery

9 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Inflorescence: Spike
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , WA , WI , WY
Native Distribution: Throughout United States; also in Ontario and far western provinces.
Native Habitat: Roadsides, fields, and waste places, often in alkaline soil.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium


Use Food: Seed cultivated by indigenous peoples of eastern North American before the arrival of maize.
Attracts: Birds

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Fredericksburg Nature Center - Fredericksburg, TX
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Sibley Nature Center - Midland, TX
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 1025 Collected Apr 28, 1995 in Bexar County by Mike Fox
NPSOT 0299 Collected Apr 26, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe

2 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-20 Collected 2006-05-08 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank

Additional resources

USDA: Find Hordeum pusillum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Hordeum pusillum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Hordeum pusillum


Record Modified: 2014-05-06
Research By: TWC Staff

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