Plants summer annuals. Culms 15-40 cm. Leaves glaucous. Spikes sometimes glaucous, often brownish when mature. Central floret pedicellate; lemmas subequal to those of the lateral florets, awns as long as or longer than those of the lateral florets; anthers 0.2-0.6 mm, much shorter than those of the lateral florets, more or less covered with purple spots. Lateral spikelets: paleas more or less densely pilose, especially on the lower 1/2; anthers 1.2-1.8 mm; rachillas about 0.3 mm, yellow. 2n = 14.
Hordeum murinum subsp. glaucum grows in grasslands, fields, and waste places. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean area. It is now common in arid areas of the western United States, and is also known from scattered locations elsewhere in the Flora region.
FNA 2003, Gould 1980
Common Name: smooth barley Duration: Annual Nativity: Non-Native Lifeform: Graminoid General: Small summer annual grass, 20-60 cm tall, stems geniculate at the base. Vegetative: Sheaths glabrous; ligules short, truncate, erose or entire, ciliolate, 0.2-0.7 mm; blades flat, 1-4 mm broad, scabrous to pilose; auricles well developed, 1-3 mm long. Inflorescence: Dense spikes, 5-7 cm, with 3 spikelets per node; disarticulating along the rachis between the spikelets; central spikelets pedicellate, 16-36 mm including awns; glumes 11-22 mm long; glumes of central spikelet and inner glumes of the lateral spikelets broadened at the base and ciliate, with 3 scabrous nerves; outer glumes of the lateral spikelets awn-like; lemma of central spikelet 6-10 m long, fertile, glabrous. Ecology: Found in disturbed areas, below 7,500 ft (2286 m); flowers May-June. Distribution: Native to the Mediterranean; introduced in much of w N. Amer., from B.C. CAN south to CA and east to TX; south to c MEX; also in Europe, Africa and Australia. Notes: Common weedy annual species in the desert. Distinguished from other Hordeum by the being an annual to 0.25 m tall with auricles; the 2-4 cm awns (shorter in H. marinum and H. pusillum and longer in H. jubatum); and the ciliate glumes. Told apart from other subspecies by the lemmas of the central florets being about equal to lateral florets, while the paleas of the lateral florets are distinctly pilose on lower half. Ethnobotany: Seeds eaten by multiple tribes in western North America. Also used by the Bedouin in North Africa and the Middle East. Etymology: Hordeum is the Latin name for barley; murinum means of mice, mouse-gray, like a mouse. Synonyms: Critesion glaucum, C. murinum subsp. glaucum, Hordeum glaucum, H. stebbinsii Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015, AHazelton 2015