Barleys are annual grasses that have been domesticated for a long time. Stems range from 1-4’ with 5-7 nodes below the head of the plant. Each node has a corresponding leaf. The shape and color of the leaf depends on the species and on the environment. The spike which holds the flowers and later the seeds is at the top of the plant and is composed of spikelets. In 2-row barley, only the center spikelet develops a flower and seed. Barley kernels are spindle shaped and symmetrical. Barley has two growing seasons (winter and spring) of 40-55 days.
Today, barley is mostly used as a livestock feed. It is also used in making malt beverages. Humans can eat barley if the hulls are ground off the seeds. Barley can also be ground into flour and made into breads and other foods. Barley can be eaten like oatmeal in a warm mush. Barley is also used as hay for grazing animals.