Identifying Grass Seedlings

Little barley (Hordeum pusilum)

Winter annual grasses


Little barley has erect stems and grows approximately 2 feet high. The round sheath is smooth or may have short, spreading hairs. Leaf blades are flat, smooth or somewhat rough and 2–5 mm wide. Auricles are absent, and the ligule is a short membrane.

Mature little barleyMature little barley.

Collar region SeedheadCollar region: short, membranous ligule.
Right, seedhead.


Little barley grows most often in open and disturbed areas such as crop fields, but it also appears in pastures, fallow fields and rights-of-way.


Little barley is found throughout much of the United States. In Missouri, it is most commonly encountered north of the Missouri River and in wheat-producing areas.

Similar species

Foxtail barley is closely related, but it has a perennial life cycle and can reach slightly greater heights.