Barley Grass (Hordeum leporinum)

Photo: Harry Rose
Photo: Harry Rose

Family: Poaceae

Growth Habit: Barley Grass is a light green grass, usually growing 20-30 com high, but can get up to 60 cm. The leaf blade is up to 25 cm long and 8mm wide, narrowing to an acute tip and emerges rolled and overlapping at the base. The leaf and sheath are hairy. It has large auricles and a membranous ligule.

Type of Plant: An erect annual grass.

Photo: Kevin Thiel
Photo: Kevin Thiel

Inflorescence: a dense, narrow spike 3-12 cm long, breaking up easily at maturity. Spikelets arranged in groups of three at alternate joints of the main axis.

Seeds: The seeds are straw like in colour and germinate in autumn to winter.

Dispersal: The seed readily lodges in animal fur/hair/wool and may be transported significant distances from the parent plant.

Distribution: Occurs in many crops. It may also be found in run down pastures, roadsides, waste areas and coastal zones.

Status: Undeclared in Tasmania.

Weed Impact:

  • Prior to seed production, barley grass can be a useful pasture component. However as the seed can be fatal to lambs, cause serious injury to the mouths of sheep and lead to vegetable fault in wool, it is rarely cultivated for pasture production.
  • Barley grass can also host a number of cereal diseases in crop growing areas.

For further information contact the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania.

Control Methods

  • Herbicide (spring, summer and autumn). Several herbicides are registered for Barley Grass in Tasmania, including glyphosate and paraquat. Contact DPIPWE for further information.
  • Grazing (all year). Will not eradicate Barley Grass, however if used correctly, it may reduce seed production. Close grazing when plants are young plus mowing in late spring is useful in limiting seed formation. Do not overgraze, as this may allow Barley Grass to proliferate.
  • Cultivation (all year). Cultivation of infested areas followed by a cropping phase that permits selective herbicides to be used.