Regular Research Papers

Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 385-393

First online:

The barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) of Sardinia, Italy

  • Giovanna AtteneAffiliated withInstituto di Agronomia generale e Coltivazioni erbacee, Università degli Studi di Sassari
  • , Salvatore CeccarelliAffiliated withInternational Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
  • , Roberto PapaAffiliated withDipartimento di Biotecnologie Agrarie ed Ambientali, Università degli Studi di Ancona

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Since ancient times, barley has been an important food resource for the people of Sardinia. The oldest traces of its cultivation are from the mid-Neolithic (fourth millennium B.C.). Archaeological, historical and anthropological aspects of barley cultivated in Sardinia are discussed in this paper. We describe the traditional process for making barley bread (orgiathu) in Sardinia, where a special starter called ghimisone was prepared. Today, barley is cultivated only as animal feed, with two uses, grain yield and grazing. Many farmers prefer to grow local populations belonging to landrace locally known as “S' orgiu sardu”. Local Sardinian populations of barley evolved in diverse environments, being cultivated from sea-level up to 1000 m elevation, on various soil types at different intensities of abiotic stresses, and with climates and environments associated with various agricultural practices, depending both on production strategies and climatic conditions. These barley materials are thought to be valuable genetic and cultural inheritance which must be preserved and used for both productive and research purposes.

Key words

H. vulgare barley landraces germplasm biodiversity