Identifying inflorescence phytoliths from selected species of wheat (Triticum monococcum, T. dicoccon, T. dicoccoides, and T. aestivum) and barley (Hordeum vulgare and H. spontaneum) (Gramineae)


barley, Gramineae, Hordeum, inflorescence bract, phytolith, Triticum, wheat


Analysis of microfossil silica phytoliths is becoming an increasingly important research tool for taxonomists, archaeobotanists, and paleoecologists. Expanded use of phytolith analysis by researchers is dependent upon development of phytolith systematics. In this study phytoliths produced by the inflorescence bracts from four species of wheat, Triticum monoccocum, T. dicoccon, T. dicoccoides, and T. aestivum, and two species of barley, Hordeum vulgare, and H. spontaneum, were analyzed using computer‐assisted image and statistical analysis with the intent to develop taxonomic tools to distinguish among the taxa. A classification key based on significant differences among the mean morphometries of the inflorescence phytoliths produced by each species was created and tested. Discriminant analysis of the morphometries of several morphotypes of phytoliths was also conducted to determine whether this computer‐assisted statistical procedure could be used as another method to classify the taxa and to determine which morphotypes have measurements that can best be used in discriminant functions. Test results indicated that, at the genus level, both the classification key and discriminant analysis of certain morphotypes of phytoliths were relatively reliable tools for distinguishing among phytoliths produced in the inflorescence bracts of the taxa considered. For distinguishing among the taxa at the species level, the classification key was most reliable. Of the discriminant analyses tested, that based on all the phytolith morphotypes combined was more reliable than those based on only one morphotype.

Original Publication Citation

Ball, T.B., J.S. Gardner, and N. Anderson. 1999. Identifying inflorescence phytoliths from selected species of wheat (Triticum monoccum, T. dicoccon, T. dicoccoides, and T. aestivum) and barley (Hordeum vulgare and H. spontaneum). American Journal of Botany. 86(11):1615-1623.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


American Journal of Botany




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor