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Barley
Poaceae
Hordeum vulgare


Thunder
Thunder
Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb


Poaceae Family

Hordeum Genus
Other Names for this Plant

Pearl Barley, Perlatum, Corn (England), Jau (Hindi)


Location

The origin of barley is still not known. There are

differing views among researchers as to whether the

original wild forms were indigenous to Eastern Asia, particularly Tibet, or to the Near East or Eastern Mediterranean Area, or both.



Physical Description
An annual grass growing to a height of 1½ to 3 feet. The stout simple stem (culm) is hollow and jointed. The narrow tapering leaves with pronounced 'ear' appendages are alternate and arise on stems in 2 ranks. They form loose sheaths around the stem. The flowers appear in bristly terminal spikes. There are 2 principle types: 2-rowed (H. distichum) and 6-rowed (H. polystichum). Each seed is enclosed in a strong hull which remains intact even during threshing.


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Poaceae
Poales
Poales
Commelinidae
Monocots
Monocots
One First-Leaves (Monocots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Barley is one of the most ancient of cultivated grains. Grains found in pits and pyramids in Egypt indicate that barley was cultivated there more than 5000 years ago. The most ancient glyph or pictograph found for barley is dated about 3000 B.C. Numerous references to barley and beer are found in the earliest Egyptian and Sumerian writings.

It was domesticated in the mid-east about 10,000 years ago. The Ebers Papyrus of about 1550 BC, mentions barley in various recipes for laxatives, expelling intestinal worms and for use as poultices for burns and fractures. It is also mentioned in records of Chinese medicine from the 16th century. Seeds have been found in tombs of Asia Minor dating from 3500 BC. It was the chief grain for bread making in Europe until it was replaced by wheat and rye. It was brought to North America by early settlers.

Medicinal Uses: Barley is used as a medicine for many different diseases. Key uses: clears mucus, demulcent, nutritive In the religion of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad prescribed it for seven diseases.

Known in Arabic as "At-Talbina", it was narrated in Islam that it helped people who lose others to death and controls grief. Illnesses include high cholesterol levels, heart disease, treatment of cancer and slowing of age, treatment for diabetes and hypertension, as well as soothing and calming effects for the bowel.

According to Culpeper, "barley flour, white salt, honey, and vinegar mingled together taketh away the itch speedily and certainly."

Barley contains beta glucan, a type of fiber that may help lower blood cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. Six-rowed barley is used in Chinese herbal medicine to strengthen digestion. It is also thought to reduce breast-milk production, helpful during weaning.

Given as a porridge or barley water, it is an excellent food for the convalescent, infants, and the infirm. It is easily assimilated, and can be taken to clear stagnant mucous and soothe an inflamed digestive tract or urinary tract.

When given to babies, it helps with the digestion of milk, preventing the development of curds within the stomach.

Food Uses: Non-alcoholic drinks such as barley water and mucicha (popular in Korea and Japan) are also made from unhulled barley. Barley is also used in soups and stews, particularly in Eastern Europe. A small amount is used in health foods and coffee substitues.

Pot and pearl barley are used in soups and dressings. The flour is used in baby foods and breakfast cereals, or mixed with wheat flour in baking.

Other Notes: The Bible mentions barley frequently. Ezekiel paid penance to God by eating a diet relying on barley. When three angels came to visit Abraham, he offered them barley bread. Ruth was gathering barley from the field when Boaz first saw her. Joab's fields of barley were set afire when Absalom ordered his servants to burn Joab's grain. From the New Testament in the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, the five loaves of bread that Christ fed to five thousand people were made of barley.

In Islam, the Prophet Muhammad prescribed barley for seven diseases. These include grief, high cholesterol levels, heart disease, treatment of cancer, effects of aging, diabetes and hypertension. It was also said to soothe and calm the bowels. Avicenna in his 11th century work The Canon of Medicine wrote of the healing effects of barley water, soup and broth for fevers.

In English folklore, The figure of John Barleycorn in the folksong of the same name is a personification of barley, and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, beer and whiskey. In the song, John Barleycorn is represented as suffering attacks, death, and indignities that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation, such as reaping and malting. He may be related to older pagan gods such as Mímir or Kvasir.





Barley
Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany [Image in Public Domain]

Comment: Barley, Hordeum vulgare

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