Wild oats (Avena fatua L., 1753) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Poaceae family.
From a systematic point of view, it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, the Plantae Kingdom, the Magnoliophyta Division, the Liliopsida Class, the Poales Order, the Poaceae Family, the Pooideae Subfamily, the Aveneae Tribe and therefore to the Genus Avena and to the species A. fatua.
In Italy the following subspecies are present:
– Avena fatua L. subsp. fatuous;
– Avena fatua subsp. meridionalis Malzev.
The terms are synonymous:
– Avena septentrionalis Malzev;
– Avena meridionalis (Malzev) Roshev.
The term Avena is assonant with the Sanskrit avasa nutrimento, forage, a name already used by Latin authors such as Pliny and Varro.
The specific fatuous epithet comes from fatuous, vain, simple, silly, tasteless.
Geographical Distribution and Habitat –
Wild oats are a plant with a Eurasian distribution, with a wide range from Europe to Japan.
In Italy it is present in all regions of Italy.
Its habitat is that of uncultivated, meadows-pasture, cereal fields, hedges and ruderal environments, from sea level to the mountain belt, at altitudes between 0-1800 meters above sea level.
Avena fatua is a bushy annual herbaceous plant of 20-100 cm in height.
The culms are solitary, collated, ascending and hairless.
The leaves are linear with a lamina up to 8-10 mm wide and truncated membranous ligula, often notched.
Wide pyramidal cobs, with patent branches in 4-7 verticils; spikelets pedicellate with 2-3 early fallen flowers; acute glumes ± equal, plurinervie; bidentate lemma with dorsal remains folded and twisted 3-4 cm long.
Its flowering period is between the months of April-June.
The caryopsis is hairy with linear hilum.
Wild oats are a spontaneous plant that grows in a large habitat and that becomes a pest in cereal fields.
Its presence has increased particularly in wheat cultivation with the advent of modern low-size grains which, due to their height, suffer the most competition from this plant.
Uses and Traditions –
Avena fatua is probably one of the progenitors of cultivated oats.
The plant has medicinal properties such as diuretic, emollient, coolant, which, above all once, were used more.
In addition to its medicinal properties, it was used, especially in times of famine, as a coffee substitute.
As for the other uses, it can be used for the production of fibers or paper.
Of this plant both the fruits and the most tender tops are used for medicinal purposes.
Preparation method –
Wild oats were used, for a long time, for its medicinal properties, to prepare decoctions or as a substitute for coffee. Use that, today, has almost completely disappeared.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for information purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; therefore, no responsibility is accepted for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.