Hordeum jubatum L.

fox-tail barley

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Fox-tail barley is native to North America but is a rather weedy species. It is very salt tolerant, and can be found on coastal beaches, the edges of salt marshes and is very common along roadsides that may be salted in winter. Its nodding spikes with long awns are very attractive, and the species is grown as an ornamental.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), brackish or salt marshes and flats, coastal beaches (sea beaches), marshes

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf blade width
1.5–5 mm
Inflorescence branches
  • the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
  • there are no branch points between the base of the inflorescence axis and the flowers, or they are not obvious
Spikelet length
5–6 mm
Glume relative length
neither glume is quite as long as all of the florets
Awn on glume
the glume has an awn
One or more florets
there is one floret per spikelet
Lemma awn length
10–60 mm
Leaf sheath hair type
  • there are hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath, but the hairs do not have blisters at their bases
  • there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
Leaf ligule length
0.5–0.8 mm
Anther length
1–1.5 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    1–1.5 mm
    Anther number
    3
    Awn on glume
    the glume has an awn
    Bristles below spikelets
    no
    Floret lower bract texture
    • the lemma is hard and firm
    • the lemma is thin and flexible
    Floret number
    1
    Floret types within spikelet
    there are at least two distinct forms of florets within one spikelet
    Glume awn length
    35–85 mm
    Glume keel
    NA
    Glume relative length
    neither glume is quite as long as all of the florets
    Glume shape
    • the glume is V-shaped in cross-section
    • the glume is flat or curved in cross-section
    Glume veins
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
    Glumes per spikelet
    2
    Inflorescence axis orientation
    • the inflorescence axis bends downwards or hangs
    • the inflorescence axis is arched or curved outward
    Inflorescence branch length
    0 cm
    Inflorescence branch roughness
    NA
    Inflorescence branches
    • the flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of the inflorescence
    • there are no branch points between the base of the inflorescence axis and the flowers, or they are not obvious
    Inflorescence branches coming off the lowest stem node
    0
    Inflorescence crowding
    NA
    Inflorescence length
    30–150 mm
    Inflorescence length to width ratio
    0.8–1.9
    Inflorescence type (general)
    • the inflorescence is a spike, or is spike-like, lacking obvious branches
    • the spikelets are borne on stalks or on branches
    Inflorescence type (specific)
    the inflorescence has pairs (or trios) of spikelets, but with one always either missing a stalk or on a shorter stalk than the other
    Inflorescence width
    40–80 mm
    Inforescence position
    the spikelets are mainly carried at the end of the stem
    Lemma awn base
    the awn is attached right at the tip of the lemma
    Lemma awn coiled
    the lemma awn is straight or twisted, but not coiled one half turn
    Lemma awn length
    10–60 mm
    Lemma awn number
    the lemma has one awn on it
    Lemma awn orientation
    the awn of the lemma is straight
    Lemma cross-section
    the lemma is flat or rounded if you cut across the midpoint
    Lemma hairs
    the lemma is hairless between the veins
    Lemma keel hairs
    the keel of the lemma is hairless
    Lemma marginal vein hairs
    the marginal vein of the lemma is hairless
    Lemma surface
    the surface of the lemma is relatively smooth (not counting any longitudinal veins or hairs)
    Lemma tip
    the lemma tip is a simple point, with or without an awn (long narrow extension ending in a point)
    Lemma tip shape
    the lemma tip tapers to a long narrow point (it may or may not also have an awn or teeth at the tip)
    Lemma vein number
    5
    Lemma vein orientation
    the veins on the lemma stay roughly parallel throughout
    Lower glume length
    35–85 mm
    Lower glume relative length
    the lower glume is nearly as long, or as long as, the upper glume
    One or more florets
    there is one floret per spikelet
    Palea length
    5.5–8 mm
    Palea relative length
    palea is one half to fully as long as lemma
    Reproductive system
    some flowers on the plant have both carpels and stamens, while other flowers have only one type of reproductive organ (polygamous)
    Spikelet axis length
    0 mm
    Spikelet axis tip
    there is an extension of the spikelet axis beyond the tip of the spikelet
    Spikelet disintegration
    the spikelet breaks off below the glumes
    Spikelet length
    5–6 mm
    Spikelet number per node
    3
    Spikelet pedicel
    • the spikelets do not have pedicels
    • the spikelets have pedicels
    Spikelet pedicel length
    0–1.2 mm
    Spikelet position
    NA
    Spikelet shape
    the spikelets are obtriangular (triangular, with the widest end away from the point of attachment) in profile
    Spikelets per panicle branch
    0
    Spikelets spiny
    the spikelets do not appear spiny
    Tip of glume
    the tip of the glume is not divided (though it may have an awn on it)
    Upper glume length
    35–85 mm
    Upper glume relative length
    the upper glume is up to one half as long as the lowest lemma
  • Fruits or seeds
    Groove on seed
    the caryopsis has a groove running most of its length
  • Growth form
    Horizontal rooting stem
    no
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Rhizomes
    no
    Roots
    there are only slender roots on the plant
  • Leaves
    Basal leaves
    the plant has few or no leaves coming from the base of the flowering stem
    Leaf auricles
    • the leaves do not have auricles
    • the leaves have auricles
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is more or less flat in cross-section, or slightly folded or rolled inwards
    Leaf blade hairs
    • the leaf blade is hairless, but it may have tiny prickles that give it a sand-papery feel
    • the leaf blade is hairy
    Leaf blade length
    Up to 15 cm
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is rough and sandpapery
    Leaf blade width
    1.5–5 mm
    Leaf ligule length
    0.5–0.8 mm
    Leaf ligule type
    the leaf ligule is in the form of a membrane
    Leaf margin glands
    there are no glands along the edges of the leaf blade
    Leaf sheath closed around stem
    the margins of the leaf sheath are overlapping and not fused together except in the basal half (or less)
    Leaf sheath hair type
    • there are hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath, but the hairs do not have blisters at their bases
    • there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
    Leaf sheath hairs
    • there are hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
    • there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath
    Orientation of topmost leaf
    • the flag leaf is held outward at more than a 45 degree angle from the stem, or it curves downwards from the horizontal
    • the flag leaf is held upright, or at less than a 45 degree angle out from the stem
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • brackish or salt marshes and flats
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • marshes
    • sea beaches
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Hairs at nodes
    the stem nodes are hairless or they have very sparse hairs
    Plant height
    20–80 cm
    Stem hairs
    • the stem has hairs on it
    • the stem is nearly to completely hairless
    Stem node number
    3–5
    Stem orientation
    • the stems are upright
    • the stems trail at the base, but turn upwards at the tips
    Stem spacing
    the stems grow close together in compact clusters or tufts

Wetland Status

Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FAC)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

ssp. jubatum

Massachusetts
not applicable (S-rank: SNA)

Native to North America?

Yes and no (some introduced)

Sometimes Confused With

Hordeum brachyantherum:
spikes erect, glumes 7–20 mm long including the awns, and glume awns not or scarcely bent outward, erect to ascending (vs. H. jubatum, with spikes arching or nodding, glumes 25–150 mm long including the awns, and glume awns strongly bent outward and wide-ascending to spreading at maturity).

Synonyms

  • Critesion jubatum (L.) Nevski

Family

Poaceae

Genus

Hordeum

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our subspecies is Hordeum jubatum L. ssp. jubatum.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

2.  Hordeum jubatum L. ssp. jubatum N

Fox-tail barley. Critesion jubatum (L.) Nevski • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Coastal beaches, upper edge of saline marshes, roadsides, railroads.