BGN 10: Hordeum spontaneum C. Koch em. Bacht, collected in Southern Morocco BARLEY GENETICS NEWSLETTER, VOL. 10, II. RESEARCH NOTES
Molina-Cano and Conde, pp. 44-47

II. 20. Hordeum spontaneum C. Koch em. Bacht, collected in Southern Morocco.

J. L. Molina-Cano and J. Conde, La Cruz del Campo, S.A., Malting & Brewing Company, Department of Barley Breeding, Apartado 53, Sevilla, Spain. "R"

Hordeum spontaneum C. Koch em. Bacht, the weed-type wild barley which is now recognized to be the wild ancestor of cultivated forms (Harlan, 1979), has a geographical distribution whose west limit is fixed by some scattered collection places in Lybia, according to the maps given by Harlan and Zohary (1966) and Harlan (1968, 1979). However, Briggs (1978) has suggested its occurrence to be scattered in Tunisia, being more doubtful in Morocco.

In a barley collection trip through Morocco in April 1978, we found a H. spontaneum population, presumbably cultivated, in a mountain pass 1800 m. above sea level (Fig. 1). The pass, Tizi-n-Taratine, is located some 125 km. southeast from Marrakech, in the Djebel Siroua Range. The place of collection was located close to the road P 32 (Ouarzazate - Taliouine). The field seemed to be in cultivation because there were conspicuous rows as the ones produced by ploughing, being the H. spontaneum plants in a somewhat dense stand.

Fig. 1. Collection site of Hordeum spontaneum in Morocco.

The collected seeds were grown in Sevilla (Southwest Spain) during the 1978-1979 season, together with some other H. spontaneum accessions kindly supplied by Dr. J. C. Craddock (Beltsville, Maryland, USA). The presumed H. spontaneum seeds from Morocco, showed a typical wild-type germination pattern, i.e., their germination extended over some 30 days, there being, therefore, very marked differences in dormancy among grains. The greatest difference in brairding date recorded was of some 20 days. This extreme dormancy was not shown by other common barleys collected in the same trip.

The spikes of the Moroccan population fragmented at maturity and their grains fell, i.e., they had brittle rachis as is usual in H. spontaneum.

Comparisons were made during the vegetative phase among the Moroccan accession and the ones from the World Collection, and there was indeed high phenotypic similarity between the former and PI 282581 from Israel. Their spikes are shown in Figure 2: (a) H. spontaneum (Morocco), (b) H. spontaneum PI 282581 (Israel).

Fig. 2. a, two spikes H. spontaneum (Morocco). b, two spikes H. spontaneum PI 282581 (Israel).
Fig. 3. a, H. spontaneum (Morocco ). b, common two-row barley.
Fig. 4. Ventral (a), dorsal (b) and lateral (c) views of spikelets from H. spontaneum (Morocco).

There was also a striking morphological dissimilarity between the spikes of H. spontaneum (Morocco) (Figure 3a) and of a common two-row barley (Figure 3b).

Ventral (a), dorsal (b), and lateral views (c) of the spikelets of H. spontaneum (Morocco) are shown in Figure 4.

From these findings it is concluded that although further research is needed, the distribution area of H. spontaneum includes Morocco.


We thank Dr. F. Kh. Bakhteyev (Moscow) for his valuable comments on the collected plant material.


Harlan, J. R. and D. Zohary. 1966. Distribution of wild wheats and barley. Science 153:1074-1080.

Harlan, J. R. 1968. On the origin of barley. USDA Agriculture Hand. 338:9-31.

Harlan, J. R. 1979. Barley. In: Evolution of Crop Plants. Ed. N. W. Simmonds, Longman, London. pp. 93-98.

Briggs, D. E. 1978. Barley. Chapman and Hall, London. pp. 81-85.

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