Foxtail Barley/Hordeum JubatumCrystal Calhoun
What is it? This is a grassy plant with barley-looking seeds at the very top. There are many species of this plant, and some recourses say this plant is specifically dangerous for animals such as dogs and cats. If this large seed cluster is swallowed, the barbed awns can eventually end up in the digestive tract and cause irritation and even inflammation. Unfortunately, they can also affect the eyes and ears, and sometimes they can be the cause of sudden blindness and even death. Take precaution with these grasses.
Where to find it? The Foxtail Barley can be found in most valleys, prairies, hills, and fields. But they can also be found growing on the sides of roads, railroads, and gardens. They are commonly seen all over the Great Plains, and is one of the main grasses the buffalo and many other herbivores ate.
What to eat? The seed can be eaten raw or cooked, just take precaution especially with furry friends nearby. Native Americans would grind the seeds into flour, and then eat the flour raw. But you can also use it as flour, added to bread or cereals, even porridge. But, it does take a lot of the seeds as they are small and hard to separate. Another thing you can do especially in an emergency situation is to treat the seeds like coffee beans, and roast them and use it as a coffee substitute.
When to find it? In states such as Oklahoma, the Foxtail Barley grows from summer to fall, and then wilts disappearing into the snowy views, then slowly starts reappearing during the spring to give more foxtails in the summer. Depending upon the state or place you live in, the foxtail might come later or earlier than these times.
What does it look like? The Foxtail is a grass that grows in long patches, not clumped together, and just spaced out rows. But this factor also depends on the species. During the spring and summer months, this grass is a bright green with long grassy stalks. But during the late summer and all throughout fall, the barley-looking seeds come out.
How to enjoy it? As I already mentioned above, the ground seeds can be used for a flour replacement. He roasted seed can also be used as a coffee substitute. Do your own research on which species you have for safety measures because not all the species have the same qualities. There are also some simple medicinal uses for the Foxtail Barley. You can dry the root, wrapped it in a towel, moisten it, and use it as a compress for styes, or even swollen eyes.