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CommentsLittle Barley is related to the Eurasian Hordeum vulgare (Cultivated Barley). Its appearance is somewhat similar to the awned variety of Cultivated Barley, except that Little Barley is smaller in size and it has shorter awns. Both of these species can be found in similar habitats (e.g., fallow fields and gravelly areas along railroads). The spike-like inflorescence of another species, Hordeum jubatum (Squirreltail Grass, Foxtail Barley), has a nodding habit and its silky awns are much longer than those of Little Barley. The most similar species in the state, Hordeum brachyantherum (Meadow Barley), is very rare in Illinois. All of the glumes of this perennial grass have a narrow bristle-like shape. In contrast, some of the glumes of Little Barley (as described above) are linear-lanceolate and noticeably widened toward their bases. Little Barley is one of the native plants that was cultivated by Amerindians in Illinois and other Midwestern states. Some of its seeds were stored during the fall and winter, planted during the spring, and harvested during the summer as a grain crop. However, when the squash-bean-corn complex of crops arrived in this area from Mexico, its cultivation was abandoned as the latter was more productive.