According to Kew Species Profiles[KSP]
- General Description
Sea barley is a wild relative of the well-known cereal barley ( Hordeum vulgare).
A member of the grass family (Poaceae), Hordeum marinum is a salt-tolerant wild relative of the economically important cereal barley ( H. vulgare).
Sea barley occurs on bare soil on the coast, around dried-up salty pools in salt marshes, and on rare occasions may be found on sandy or stony areas. Its tolerance of high salt levels and the water-logging that commonly accompanies it, makes sea barley a candidate for hybridisation with wheat ( Triticum species). Increasing salinity of arable land is a costly problem for farmers worldwide, reducing plant growth and thus crop yields.
- Species Profile
Geography and distribution
The UK is at the northern edge of the distribution of Hordeum marinum, where it grows from the south coast of Wales to its northernmost limit at the Wash. It is absent from Ireland and no longer occurs in Scotland. It is also found across the Mediterranean and parts of Central Asia on disturbed inland areas. This species has become extensively naturalised outside its native range.
Sea barley grows up to 10–40 cm tall with stiff, smooth stems growing singly or clustered loosely together. Stems grow either straight upwards or outwards, spreading from a bent base. Each stem contains 3 or 4 nodes (areas from which leaves emerge). Sheaths (the lower parts of the leaf that wrap around the stem) are smooth and rounded on their backs. The leaf blade is bluish-green and narrows to a fine point at the tip. Membrane-like ligules (outgrowths on the inner side of the junction between leaf sheath and blade) are less than 1 mm in length.
Flower heads are green or purplish, spike-shaped and bristled, 2.0–6.0 cm long and 1.5–3.0 cm wide. Spikelets (single units of the flower head composed of modified leaves and flowers) occur in groups of three, alternating on opposite sides of the flowering stem. The central spikelet contains a single bisexual flower and joins directly to the flowering stem. Lateral spikelets are sterile and borne on short stalks. On fruiting, spikelets fall from the flowering stem in groups of three. Flowering and fruiting occurs during the summer
Subspecies of sea barley
There are two subspecies of sea barley. Hordeum marinum subspecies marinumis distinguished by the wide, wing-like base of the inner glumes (modified leaves at the base of spikelets) of its lateral spikelets. In contrast, H. marinum subspecies gussoneanum has a narrower inner glume that is not winged and a more variable chromosome number. Although H. marinum subspecies gussoneanumis not native to the British Isles, it is widely invasive in Britain and has been present in Guernsey for more than a hundred years. Seeds of H. marinum may colonise outside of their native range, carried as contaminants in imports of agricultural plants.
Reproduction of sea barley
Sea barley is an annual that self-pollinates and reproduces solely by seed. It requires an open habitat, performing best in mud that begins to dry during spring and is hard by the middle of the summer. Flooding in winter may help disperse the seeds, as winter flood lines from the previous year are found to contain seed deposits. Seedlings are seen in both spring and autumn; however, it is not known if either of these populations contributes more significantly to persistence of the species.
Threats and conservation
The distribution of sea barley around the south coast of England has become patchy as populations at the limits of its distribution disappear. These local extinctions are due to loss of appropriate habitat through filling-in of brackish land, land improvement, conversion of marshland grazing sites and construction of sea defences. These habitat losses have led to sea barley being listed as Vulnerable in the Vascular Plant Red Data List for Great Britain 2005.
Another reason for its decline is that annuals such as Hordeum marinumare susceptible to competition from perennial species. Elymus pycnanthus, for example, may take over the saline habitats previously occupied by H. marinum, a problem that can be alleviated by the continuous creation of open areas, which are essential for the establishment and persistence of sea barley.
Sea barley is tolerant of high salt levels in the soil and also of the water-logging that commonly accompanies high salinity. These qualities have led to sea barley being proposed as a candidate for hybridisation with wheat ( Triticumspecies), with the aim of producing plants that are more suited to the increasing salinity of arable land, which can result from climate change.
Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change
Kew is one of a number of institutions collaborating on the 'Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change' project. This project seeks to combat the threat to global food security posed by climate change and will focus on collecting, protecting and preparing crop wild relatives for breeding programmes.
Hordeum marinum is an important wild relative of the major cereal grain Hordeum vulgare (barley). Previous studies of H. marinumhave found that its saline tolerance makes it a possible candidate for hybridisation with wheat ( Triticumspecies). It is hoped that introducing traits from wild relatives to crop species will produce hybrids adapted to new climates with different demands.
Millennium Seed Bank: Saving seeds
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.
Two collections of Hordeum marinum seeds are held in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst in West Sussex.
See Kew’s Seed Information Database for further information on Hordeum marinum.
This species at Kew
Sea barley is not currently grown at Kew, but other Hordeumspecies can be seen growing here in the Grass Garden.
Pressed and dried specimens of Hordeum marinum are held in Kew’s Herbarium where they are available to researchers by appointment. The details of some of these specimens, including some images, can be seen online in Kew’s Herbarium Catalogue.
- United Kingdom
- Bare soil on coastlines, margins of dried-up saline pools, disturbed verges inland of sea walls and salt marshes.
- Vulnerable (VU) in Great Britain according to IUCN Red List criteria.
Barley grasses can cause problems for sheep such as eye injuries, reduced weight gain and inferior wool quality.
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Austria, Baleares, Baltic States, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Is., Corse, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, East Aegean Is., Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Kriti, Krym, Kuwait, Lebanon-Syria, Libya, Madeira, Morocco, Netherlands, North Caucasus, Pakistan, Palestine, Portugal, Romania, Sardegna, Saudi Arabia, Sicilia, Sinai, South European Russi, Spain, Tadzhikistan, Transcaucasus, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, West Himalaya, Yugoslavia
Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Argentina South, Arizona, British Columbia, California, Cape Provinces, Chile Central, Chile South, Idaho, Illinois, Japan, Masachusettes, Mexico Northwest, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New South Wales, New Zealand North, New Zealand South, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Utah, Victoria, Washington, Western Australia
- Sea barley
Hordeum marinum Huds. appears in other Kew resources:
Herbarium Catalogue (51 records)
|Date Identified||Reference||Herbarium Specimen||Type Status|
|Prior, C.A. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790057|
|T.W. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790058|
|Johnston, H.B. , United Kingdom||K000790059|
|s.coll. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790062|
|Baker, J.G. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790065|
|Coates, J. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790066|
|s.coll. , United Kingdom||K000790067|
|Marshall, E.S. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790006|
|Marshall, E.S. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790007|
|Makins, F.K. , United Kingdom||K000790008|
|Summerhayes, V.S. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790009|
|Haines, D.M. , United Kingdom||K000790010|
|Williams, L.H. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790012|
|Gamble, J.S. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790013|
|Payne, R. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790014|
|Gamble, J.S. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790015|
|Jenner, J.H.A. , United Kingdom||K000790016|
|s.coll. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790017|
|Loydell, A. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790018|
|Lousley, J.E. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790019|
|Jones, C. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790020|
|Hubbard, C.E. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790021|
|Horwood, A.R. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790023|
|s.coll. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790024|
|Wallace, E.C. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790025|
|Fraser, J. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790026|
|Cole, L.W. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790028|
|Burtt, B.L. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790029|
|Burtt, B.L. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790030|
|O'Byrne, J.K. , United Kingdom||K000790031|
|O'Byrne, J.K. , United Kingdom||K000790032|
|Webster, M.M. , United Kingdom||K000790033|
|Summerhayes, V.S. , United Kingdom||K000790035|
|Melville, R. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790036|
|Britton, C.E. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790037|
|Whellan, J.A. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790038|
|Oliver, D. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790039|
|Hosking, A. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790040|
|Townsend, C.C. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790041|
|s.coll. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790042|
|s.coll. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790044|
|Lousley, J.E. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790045|
|Brown, J. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790046|
|T.M. , United Kingdom||K000790048|
|Hubbard, C.E. , United Kingdom||K000790049|
|Hubbard, C.E. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790050|
|Hubbard, C.E. , United Kingdom||K000790051|
|Hubbard, C.E. , United Kingdom||K000790052|
|Hubbard, C.E. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790053|
|Townsend, C.C. [s.n.], United Kingdom||K000790054|
|Dony, J.G. , United Kingdom||K000790055|
First published in Fl. Angl., ed. 2: 57 (1778)
-  (2010) Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 1: 1-455. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
-  (2009) Flora of Australia 44A: 1-410. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
-  (2008) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 107: 1-3348
-  Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2007) Flora of North America North of Mexico 24: 1-908. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
-  Clayton, W.D., Harman, K.T. & Williamson, H. (2006) World Grass Species - Synonymy database . The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
-  Takhtajan, A.L. (ed.) (2006) Conspectus Florae Caucasi 2: 1-466. Editio Universitatis Petropolitanae.
-  Boulos, L. (2005) Flora of Egypt 4: 1-617. Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo.
-  Danin, A. (2004) Distribution Atlas of Plants in the Flora Palaestina area . The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem.
-  (1999) Flora of Russia. The European part and bordering regions 1: 1-546. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Broekfield.
-  Al-Rawi, A. (1987) Flora of Kuwait 2: 1-455. Alden Press Ltd., U.K..
-  Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1985) Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 9: 1-724. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
-  Meikle, R.D. (1985) Flora of Cyprus 2: 833-1970. The Bentham-Moxon Trust Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
-  Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1980) Flora Europaea 5: 1-452. Cambridge University Press.
-  (1970) Flora Iranica 70: 1-573. Naturhistorisches Museums Wien.
-  (1968) Flora of Iraq 9: 1-588. Ministry of Agriculture & Agrarian Reform, Baghdad.
-  (2013) Botanical Sciences 91: 461-475
-  Hassler, M. (2012) Flora of Rhodes. Systematic list of flora of Rhodes . http://www.rz.uni-karlsruhe.de/~db111/flora/rhodos/list.php.
-  Tropicos (2012). Hordeum marinum Huds.
-  (2010) Flora of New Zealand , ed. 2, 5: 1-650. R.E.Owen, Government Printer, Wellington.
-  Cope, T. & Gray, A. (2009). Grasses of the British Isles. Botanical Society of the British Isles, London.
-  Malik, A. I., English, J. P. & Coler T. D. (2009). Tolerance of Hordeum marinum accessions to O2 deficiency, salinity and these stresses combined. Annals of Botany 103: 237-248.
-  Speltzer (2009). Weed 2: Barley Grass.
-  (2007) Flora of the Arabian peninsula and Socotra 5(1): 1-387. Edinburgh University Press.
-  Colmer, T. D., Flowers, T. J. & Munns, R. (2006). Use of wild relatives to improve salt tolerance in wheat. Journal of Experimental Botany 57: 1059-1078.
-  Cheffings, C. & Farrell, L. (eds) (2005). The Vascular Plant Red Data List for Great Britain. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough.
-  Alton, S. (2004). The Millennium Seed Bank Project (MSBP) International Programme. BGjournal 1: 15-16.
-  Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003) Plants of Southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14. . National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
-  Koyama, T. (1987) Grasses of Japan and its neighboring regions: an identification manual . Kodansha, Tokyo, Japan.
-  Hubbard, C. E. (1984). Grasses: a Guide to their Structure, Identification, Uses and Distribution in the British Isles. The Penguin Group, London.
-  (1982) Flora of Pakistan 143: 1-678. Department of Botany, University of Karachi, Karachi.
-  (1957) Flora Tadzhikskoi SSR 1: 1-547. Izd-vo Akademii nauk SSSR, Moskva.
-  Pavlov, N.V. (ed.) (1956) Flora Kazakhstana 1: 1-354. Alma-Ata, Izd-vo Akademii nauk Kazakhskoi SSR.
-  (1950) Flora Kirgizskoi SSR 2: 1-315. Frunze : Izd-vo KirgizFAN SSSR.
-  (1941) Flora Uzbekistana 1: 1-566. Izd-va Akademii nauk Uzbekskoi SSR, Tashkent.
-  (1932) Flora Turkmenii 1: 1-340. Turkmenskoe gosudarstvennoe izd., Ashkhabad.
International Plant Names Index
The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
[A] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
Kew Species Profiles
Kew Species Profiles
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
[D] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
[E] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
[F] © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0