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Wall barley

Scientific name: Hordeum murinum
The distinctive spiky, or 'bearded', green flower heads of Wall barley appear from June to July and are easy to spot in an urban environment as they push their way up through pavements and walls.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 50cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

The feathery flower spikes of Wall barley are a common sight along many urban pavements, pushing their way between the cracks in paving stones and walls. Wall barley is also commonly found on waste ground and bare patches in dry grasslands. Its flowers appear from June to July, and although they may look soft, they are as clingy as Burdock burs and have been the subject of many games as children desperately try to stick them to each other and unsuspecting pets.

How to identify

Wall barley has distinctive, 'bearded', green flower heads. Its spikelets (containing the flowers) are positioned close to each other in rows, forming a rectangular flower head with spiky tufts.

Distribution

Mainly found in England and Wales, scarce elsewhere.

Did you know?

Wall barley's Latin name, murinum, is derived from mouse (not wall as some may think) and this plant is known as 'Mouse Barley' in North America.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try leaving wilder areas in your garden, such as patches of buttercups in your lawn or nettles near your compost heap, to see who comes to visit? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.