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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Foxtail barley  (Hordeum jubatum)

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Life stages of Foxtail barley left picture right picture

Foxtail barley is a widely distributed native cool season perennial or annual grass that is found throughout California up to an elevation of 9800 feet (3000 m). It is occasionally weedy on agricultural land and other disturbed, often moist places. Foxtail barley is susceptible to the same fungal pathogens that cause black stem rust of grains and wheat rust.


Fields, pastures, ditchbanks, roadsides, saline and alkaline areas, and other disturbed, often moist sites.


Ligules are membranous, and unlike hare barley, auricles are absent or are poorly developed.

Mature plant

The mature plant can reach almost 2 feet (60 cm) tall. Leaf blades are 1 to 6 inches (2.5–15 cm) long.


The flowering head is a spike that ranges from 1-1/5 to 4 inches (3–10 cm) in length. Long needlelike awns, up to 1/3 of an inch (7 mm), extend from the spike, earning the plant some of its common names such as "skunktail" and squirreltail".

Related or similar plants

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