Wild Barley (Hordeum vulgare spontaneum)is a common grass in the region of the Fertile Crescent where it was first domesticated. It can be found throughout North Africa and around parts of the Mediterranean. There is evidence of its cultivation which goes back to 8,000 BC. The first and oldest cultivar has a two row seed head and is generally termed Two-row Barley (Hordeum vulgare distichum). This type of barley was traditionally used to make English Ale.
Two-Row Barley used ion the brewing industry
Naked Barley (Hordeum
vulgare) is a variation that is easily de-hulled.
It is a more digestible form of grain.
With a single genetic mutation, the more recent Six-row Barley (Hordeum
vulgare hexastichum) has six rows of seeds in its seed
head. This is a higher yielding species and is used for
animal feed and for food processing additives.
Four-row Barley (Hordeum vulgare hexastichum) is a variation of six-row barley, being genetically identical in almost all respects. It is the same subspecies and can show either 4 or 6 row variance in its progeny.
In Roman times, Barley was used to feed Gladiators who were known as hordearii; barley-eaters.
This part of the Bread Pages looks at the The different types of Flour used throughout history.