Eesti Elu
Name that grain
Eestlased Eestis 28 Aug 2012  Eesti Elu
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 - pics/2012/08/37283_001_t.jpg

Although not a complete set, these were the cereal plants (tera/viljad) handily found in nearby Estonian fields. From the left are: NISU (wheat), ODER (barley), wild oats representing KAER (oats) and TRITICALE, a man-made hybrid of wheat + rye, popular in Europe and Australia, but not very widely known in North America. RUKIS (rye) is the one major cereal plant missing from this happy family. The cereal you have for breakfast is (hommiku) krõbinad, grains are terad, as in whole grain flour (täis/tera/jahu) and multigrain bread (mitme/vilja/sai). Make that toasted = röstitud or röst/sai! Photo: Riina Kindlam

The third plant in the line-up (oats, kaer) is hereby actually being replaced by wild oats (tuule/kaer) for the purpose of introductory identification. Although considered a weed, tuulekaer is very similar in appearance to the real thing. The last of the bunch, triticale is mostly grown for forage or fodder (looma/sööt), i.e. animal feed.

Some easy tips for ID-ing: wheat (nisu) generally lacks a long awn or beard. My initial reaction was to call these vurrud or whiskers in Estonian, but their proper name is OHTED. Pictured here is tali/nisu or winter wheat, the most common type in Eesti. No facial hair whatsoever.

In contrast, barley (oder), second from the left, boasts the longest awn or ohted. Pictured here is two-row barley (kahe/realine või -tahuline oder, literally two-faceted), but 4- and 6-row also exist.

Oats (kaer) with their shower of open panicles are unlike all the other fruiting heads vilja/pead which appear as dense spikes. Triticale is trickier, but not if you do the math: it looks like wheat (nisu), but has the beard of rye (rukis).
The field of agricultural botany has so many more detailed terms, but this hopefully serves to separate the initial wheat (or any fine grain for that matter) from the chaff – Eraldab terad sõkaldest.

Riina Kindlam, Tallinn
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