Hordeum jubatum (squirrel-tail grass, squirrel-tail barley, wild barley, barleygrass, flicker-tail grass, maned barley)

description: perennial

place of origin: northeastern Siberia and northern North America

urban habitat: commonly found in disturbed sites, drainage ditches, waste areas, urban fields; can thrive in a variety of soil types in including those high in saline and clay soils and in both moist and drought-prone areas; seeds can lay dormant in the winter and resume growth in early spring.

ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer of bare ground, reduces soil salinity.

history: Native to Siberia and northern North America, Hordeum jubatum today ranges throughout most of North America and has been introduced to South America, Europe, and central Asia. It continues to be planted as an ornamental grass. Some Native American tribes used the plant and its roots as food, to make tools, and to soothe eye ailments. Its seed can be ground into flour or roasted and used as a coffee substitute. The barbed awns of the plant can cause irritation in the digestive system of animals that eat it, and become caught in ears and eyes causing blindness.