Hordeum brachyantherum ssp. californicum

Meadow Barley

Plant Type: Grass
Sun: Sun
Drainage: Adaptable
Water: Naturalize, Occasional
Height X Width: 2' X 2'
Santa Clara County Local: Yes
What do these mean?



Meadow barley is found in much of western North America, often in vernally wet areas. One can imagine meadow barley thriving in the marshes that would develop every winter in northern Santa Clara County before our local creeks were “channelized.” The plant grows as an expanding bunchgrass to about three feet in height. The blades are fairly wide and apple green. The springtime flower spikes are topped with rows of seed heads, each with a short upward facing awn (“tail”). The seed heads are striking when the grass is planted in a group. As the year moves into summer, the seeds mature and the plant begins to go dormant. Some seed should be allowed to mature and fall, since meadow barley can be short lived. One may experiment with this grass to determine if summer water will prevent dormancy.


Deer Resistant: No
Attractive to Bees: Yes
Attractive to Butterflies: Yes
Good Under Oaks: No
Evergreen or Deciduous: Deciduous