Revision of Aegilops from Fri, 2020-05-22 14:30

Aegilops L.

As traditionally understood Aegilops is a small genus of ca. 23 species. Most are confined to the Mediterranean region and Macaronesia but some extend eastwards to Central Asia. None are native in Belgium. Species of Aegilops are commonly found as agricultural weeds in Mediterranean arable fields. Numerous species used to be recorded as grain aliens outside their native distribution area (see for instance Jansen & Wachter 1931, Ryves & al. 1996 for an overview of species involved). In the past decades and for obscure reasons (modified harvesting techniques?, changed provenance?,…) species of Aegilops much decreased in Belgium as well as elsewhere in NW-Europe.

The generic limits of Aegilops are under study. Recent molecular phylogenetic studies proved that the genus is not monophyletic (Petersen & al. 2006, Kawahara 2009). Monophyly would possibly be restored if the anomalous species Aegilops speltoides were exluded from Aegilops (and transferred to a monospecific genus Sitopsis). Other authors have suggested merging Aegilops and Triticum but this would require further transfers of Amblyopyrum, Crithopsis, Lophopyrum and Thinopyrum. This would render Triticum an amalgam of morphologically very diverse units. Pending further studies, Aegilops is therefore maintained here in its traditional sense. 

  • Inflorescence (excl. awns) more than 50 mm long, ca. 3 mm wide, more than 10 times as long as wide. Glumes of median and lowermost spikelets unawned, mucronate or with an awn < 5 mm long, glumes of the uppermost spikelets with a long awn === 1. Aegilops cylindrica
  • Inflorescence (excl. awns) 20-30 mm long, ca. 4-7 mm wide, less than 5 times as long as wide. All glumes 3-5 awned, awn 20-45 mm long === 2. A. geniculata

Additional aliens: Aegilops triuncialis L. (Medit., agric. seeds alien) and A. ventricosa Tausch (Medit., grain alien).



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Eliáš P. jun., Dítě D., Eliašová M. & Ďurišová Ľ. (2013) Distribution and origin of Aegilops species in Slovakia. Thaiszia – J. Bot. 23(2): 117-129. [available online at:]

Jansen P. (1951) Flora Neerlandica, deel 1, aflevering 2. KNBV, Amsterdam: 272 p.

Jansen P. & Wachter W.H. (1931) Floristische aanteekeningen XXVIII. Aegilops L. Nederl. Kruidk. Arch. 41: 126-148.

Kawahara T. (2009) Molecular phylogeny among Triticum-Aegilops species and of the tribe Triticeae. Breed. Sci. Vol. 59: 499-504. [available online at:] 

Perrino E.V., Wagensommer R.P. & Medagli P. (2014) Aegilops (Poaceae) in Italy: taxonomy, geographical distribution, ecology, vulnerability and conservation. Systematics & Biodiversity 12(3): 331-349.

Petersen G., Seberg O., Yde M. & Berthelsen K. (2006) Phylogenetic relationships of Triticum and Aegilops and evidence for the origin of the A, B, and D genomes of common wheat (Triticum aestivum). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39: 70-82. [available online at:

Ryves T.B., Clement E.J. & Foster M.C. (1996) Alien grasses of the British Isles. BSBI, London: XX + 181 p.

Saufferer S.M. (2007) Aegilops. In: Barkworth M.E. & al. (eds.), Flora of North America north of Mexico, vol. 24: 261-267. Oxford University Press, New York-Oxford.

Tutin T.G. & Humphries C.J. (1980) Aegilops. In: Tutin T.G. & al. (eds.), Flora Europaea, vol. 5. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 200-202.

Van Slageren M.W. (1994) Wild wheats: a monograph of Aegilops L. and Amblyopyrum (Jaub. & Spach) Eig. Wageningen Agricultural University Papers 94-7. Wageningen and Aleppo: 512 p.

Witcombe J.R. (1983) A guide to the species of Aegilops L. International Board For Plant Genetic Resources. Wheat Programme, Rome: 74 p. (available online at:]

Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith