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Hordeum marinum (sea barley)

Sea barley is a wild relative of the well-known cereal barley (Hordeum vulgare).
Hordeum marinum (sea barley)

Hordeum marinum in Lagos, Portugal (Photo: Júlio Reis licensed under CC by 3.0)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Hordeum marinum Huds.

Common name: 

sea barley, seaside barley

Conservation status: 

Vulnerable (VU) in Great Britain according to IUCN Red List criteria.


Bare soil on coastlines, margins of dried-up saline pools, disturbed verges inland of sea walls and salt marshes.

Key Uses: 

Potential for use in crop breeding.

Known hazards: 

Barley grasses can cause problems for sheep such as eye injuries, reduced weight gain and inferior wool quality.


Genus: Hordeum

About this species

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.


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