Herb: Two-Rowed Barley

Latin name: Hordeum distichon

Synonyms: Hordeum vulgare distichon

Family: Gramineae (Grass Family)

Medicinal use of Two-Rowed Barley:

Barley grain is an excellent food for convalescence, either in the form of porridge or as a decoction of the seed. It is soothing to the throat and provides easily assimilated nutrients. It can also be taken to clear catarrh. Its demulcent properties soothes inflammation of the gut and urinary tract. It is commonly given to children suffering minor infections or diarrhoea and is particularly recommended as a treatment for feverish states and in catarrhal affections of the respiratory and urinary organs. Made into a poultice, the seed is an effective remedy for soothing and reducing inflammation in sores and swellings. Modern research has shown that barley may be of aid in the treatment of hepatitis, whilst other trials have shown that it may help to control diabetes. Barley bran may have the effect of lowering blood cholesterol levels and preventing bowel cancer.

Description of the plant:


120 cm
(4 feet)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in the wild. Occurs as a relict of cultivation in Britain but it does not persist.

Edible parts of Two-Rowed Barley:

Seed - cooked. The seed can be ground into a flour and used as a cereal in making bread, porridge etc. Malt is obtained by sprouting and roasting the seed, then boiling the seed. The resulting liquid is a sweet substance that is used in making beer and as a food. The longer the seed is roasted, the darker this liquid will be. The roasted (unsprouted) seed is used as a coffee and a salt substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

The stems, after the seed has been harvested, have many uses. They are a source of fibres for making paper, a biomass for fuel etc, they can be shredded and used as a mulch.

Propagation of Two-Rowed Barley:

Seed - sow in situ in March or October and only just cover the seed. Make sure the soil surface does not dry out if the weather is dry. Germination takes place within 2 weeks.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in the wild. Occurs as a relict of cultivation in Britain but it does not persist.

Known hazards of Hordeum distichon:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.