Avena

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Around one dozen, see text

The oats (Avena) are a genus of 10-15 species of true grasses (family Poaceae).[1] They are native to Europe, Asia and northwest Africa. One species is widely cultivated elsewhere, and several have become naturalized in many parts of the world. All oats have edible seeds, though they are small and hard to harvest in most species.

Contents

Ecology

Avena species, including cultivated oats, are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Rustic Shoulder-knot and Setaceous Hebrew Character.

For diseases of oats, see List of oats diseases.

Species

Cultivated oats

One species is of major commercial importance as a cereal grain. Four other species are grown as crops of minor or regional importance.

  • Avena sativa – (Common) Oat, a cereal crop of global importance and the species commonly referred to as "Oats"
  • Avena abyssinica – Ethiopian Oat, "a half-weed, half-crop confined to the highlands of Ethiopia."[2]
  • Avena byzantina, a minor crop in the Near and Middle East
  • Avena nuda – Naked Oat or Hulless Oat, plays much the same role in Europe as does A. abyssinica in Ethiopia. It is sometimes included in A. sativa and was widely grown in Europe before the latter replaced it. As its nutrient content is somewhat better than that of Common Oat, A. nuda has increased in significance in recent years, especially in organic farming
  • Avena strigosa – Lopsided Oat or Bristle Oat, grown for fodder in parts of Western Europe and Brazil

Wild oats

These species, called wild oats or oat-grasses, are nuisance weeds in cereal crops, as, being grasses like the crop, they cannot be chemically removed; any herbicide that would kill them would also damage the crop.

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