One of many weedy spring annuals
Little Barley (Hordeum pusillum) is a native species in Illinois and looks similar to cultivated barley (Hordeum vulgare). Because it likes to grow in disturbed areas it is not typically a desired grass. It is a spring annual, so by May is well into its flowering season.
Little Barley is a bunchgrass that stays around or under a foot tall.
- Compared to other grasses of its height, it has much broader leaves. The leaves themselves are rather short, less than about 2 inches long, and stay broad almost to the tip, where they become pointed.
- It has a very short membranous ligule that can be difficult to see.
- When it flowers, Little Barley produces a spike inflorescence, with numerous awned spikelets densely arranged together. It resembles a barley seed head, but is smaller and has shorter awns.