Barley is one of the world’s oldest crop plants. While its origins are unknown, humans may have consumed it as early as 15,000 B.C. It was farmed in China around 7,000 B.C., in Spain by 5,000 B.C., and in England by 3,000 B.C. It belongs to the same plant family (Poaceae or Gramineae) as corn, oats, rice, and wheat, and is grown primarily for malting grain and as livestock feed. Barley grows throughout the Temperate Zone. It thrives in cool northern climates and at high altitudes, and is planted in warmer climates as a winter crop.