Herb: Rye

Latin name: Secale cereale

Family: Gramineae (Grass Family)

Medicinal use of Rye:

The seed is made into a poultice and applied to tumours. The seed is also an effective laxative due to its fibrous seed coat.

Description of the plant:


180 cm
(6 feet)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Edible parts of Rye:

Seed - cooked. A common cereal, it is used especially in N. Europe to make bread. The seed contains about 13% protein. The grain also contains some gluten, though not as much as wheat, so it makes a heavier bread than wheat. It can also be used to make cakes etc. The seed can be sprouted and added to salads. A nutritional analysis is available. Malt, a sweet substance produced by germinating the seed, is extracted from the roasted germinated seed and used as a sweetening agent and in making beer etc. The roasted (ungerminated) seed is used as a coffee substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

The straw is used as a fuel or as a biomass in industry. It is quite strong and can also be used in thatching, for paper making, weaving mats and hats etc. Other uses for the straw include as a packing material for nursery stock, bricks and tiles, for bedding, archery targets, and mushroom compost. The plant is a good green manure crop. It is fast growing with an extensive and deep root system. It is especially useful if sown in late autumn. Its growth over the winter will prevent soil erosion and the leaching of nutrients from the soil, it can then be incorporated into the soil in the spring. The extensive root system also makes this a good plant to use for soil stabilization, especially on sandy soils.

Propagation of Rye:

Seed - sow March or October in situ and only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Known hazards of Secale cereale:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.