It can grow to 30 cm in height and its unbranched spikes can reach 10 cm long. It is quite widespread and common. It flowers during May through July in mainly costal areas. It produces small, dry nutlets and its leaves can be 8 mm wide with short, blunt ligules.
In the United Kingdom it is absent throughout most of Ireland and Scotland but is common in England and Wales.
Subspecies include ssp. leporinum, known as hare barley, mouse barley, and barley grass. It grows in tufts from 10 to 40 centimetres in height. It was first published as the full species Hordeum leporinum by Johann Heinrich Friedrich Link in 1834. In 1882 it was redescribed as a subspecies of H. murinum by Giovanni Arcangeli. Today some authorities maintain it at the species level. It is native to Europe, northern Africa and temperate Asia, and it is widely naturalised elsewhere. Barley grass is known in Chinese as màiqīng (麦青) and is a common ingredient in the spring snack qingtuan.
- "Sorting Hordeum names". Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- "Hordeum murinum subsp. leporinum (Link) Arcang.". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) online database.
- "Hordeum leporinum Link". FloraBase. Department of Environment and Conservation, Government of Western Australia.
- New South Wales Flora Online: Hordeum leporinum by Link, Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, Sydney, Australia.
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