THE MINOR CEREALS AND SMALL GRAINS
Barley is of great antiquity as a cultivated cereal and was used for bread even before wheat. Pliny claimed that it was man's most ancient foodstuff, and some modern scholars consider it the oldest of all cultivated plants. It was known to all the ancient civilizations of the Old World, and the Lake Dwellers of Europe were familiar with no less than three kinds. Barley, according to Vavilov, probably originated in the arid
lands of Southwestern Asia, Northern Africa, and also in Southeastern Asia. It reached the Western Hemisphere in the sixteenth or seventeenth century.
Barley is an annual plant, tending to become perennial. It is related to wheat and resembles the latter in many respects. It seldom reaches more than 3 ft. in height (Fig. 159). The infloreseence is a dense head with three sessile spikelets alternating at each joint of the straight axis. Most barleys are conspicuously bearded, though some are naked. The