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Avena sativa (oat)

Oat is cultivated throughout the temperate world, to produce food for livestock and humans, and even as an ingredient for cosmetics.
Avena sativa spikelets

Avena sativa spikelets (Photo: Andreas Trepte,

Species information

Scientific name: 

Avena sativa L.

Common name: 


Conservation status: 

Not threatened.


This domesticated cereal is widely cultivated in temperate regions.

Key Uses: 

A major cereal and fodder crop since ancient times. Oat is an ingredient of a wide range of food products, such as breakfast cereals, porridge, biscuits and breads. Oat is also used in preparations to treat dry skin.

Known hazards: 

Oat can be tolerated by most (but not all) people who are gluten intolerant. Oat is frequently processed near other grains (such as wheat), so there are risks associated with contamination from gluten sources.


Genus: Avena

About this species

Oat (Avena sativa) is one of a number of species of domesticated and wild oats in the genus Avena (the members of which are collectively known as oats). Oat is descended from A. sterilis, a wild oat that spread as a weed of wheat and barley from the Fertile Crescent (a region spreading from Israel to western Iran) to Europe. It was domesticated about 3,000 years ago, in the wetter, colder conditions of Europe, in which oats thrive, and soon became an important cereal in its own right on the cooler fringes of Europe.


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