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Hordeum brachyantherum occurs broadly in North America and in western Russia on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Chief habitats include wet meadows, riparian zones, forest clearings grasslands or roadsides.

With a common name of Meadow barley, this perennial tufted grass achieves a height of up to one meter. The species occcurs in diploid and tetrapoid forms.

Meadow barley has shown utility in vegetative restoration for denuded areas, since it grows rapidly and tolerates marginal soils such as those high in salinity. It is also valuable in providing cover for small wildlife species. In the early growth phase it is a moderately good food source for ungulates, but in the later season that value subsides.

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