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Rye (Secale cereale)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Secale cereale

The straw is used as a fuel or as a biomass in industry[141]. It is quite strong[100] and can also be used in thatching, for paper making, weaving mats and hats etc[13, 34, 46, 61, 171]. Other uses for the straw include as a packing material for nursery stock, bricks and tiles, for bedding, archery targets, and mushroom compost[269].

The plant is a good green manure crop. It is fast growing with an extensive and deep root system[46]. It is especially useful if sown in late autumn. Its growth over the winter will prevent soil erosion and the leaching of nutrients from the soil, it can then be incorporated into the soil in the spring[171]. The extensive root system also makes this a good plant to use for soil stabilization, especially on sandy soils[171].

  • Medicinal Use

    The seed is made into a poultice and applied to tumours[218].

    The seed is also an effective laxative due to its fibrous seed coat[269].

  • Edible Use

    Seed – cooked[2, 13, 34, 46]. A common cereal, it is used especially in N. Europe to make bread[183]. The seed contains about 13% protein[61]. The grain also contains some gluten, though not as much as wheat, so it makes a heavier bread than wheat. It can also be used to make cakes etc. The seed can be sprouted and added to salads[183]. A nutritional analysis is available[218].

    Malt, a sweet substance produced by germinating the seed, is extracted from the roasted germinated seed and used as a sweetening agent and in making beer etc[13].

    The roasted (ungerminated) seed is used as a coffee substitute[46, 183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow March or October in situ and only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks.
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils but prefers a well-drained light soil in a sunny position[1, 132]. It thrives on infertile, submarginal areas and is renouned for its ability to grow on sandy soils[269]. Established plants are drought tolerant[1]. The plant is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation in the range of of 22 to 176cm, an annual temperature in the range of of 4.3 to 21.3¡C and a pH of 4.5 to 8.2[269]. Rye is a widely cultivated temperate zone cereal crop. It is able to withstand severe climatic conditions and can be grown much further north and at higher altitudes than wheat[13, 34, 57]. Average yields vary widely from country to country, the world average is around 1.6 tonnes per hectare with yields of almost 7 tonnes per hectare achieved in Norway[269]. There are many named varieties[183]. Rye is a rather variable species and botanists have divided it into a number of sub-species, all of which could be of value in breeding programmes. These sub-species are briefly listed below:- S. cereale afghanicum (Vavilov.)K.Hammer. Native to the Caucasus, western Asia and India. S. cereale ancestrale Zhuk. Native to western Asia. S. cereale dighoricum Vavilov. Native to the Caucasus and eastern europe. S. cereale segetale Zhuk. Native to temperate Asia. Rye grows well with cornflowers and pansies[18, 20], though it inhibits the growth of poppies and couch grass[18, 20].
W. Asia? Original habitat is obscure.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.