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580 #: 

no. 1-10 


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University of Illinois Library 

DEC 1 1! 

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MJG 16 1922 






AUG 16 1922 





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Field Museum of Natural History 

Chicago. 1922 

Leaflet Number 3 


Mankind has undoubtedly always used the seed of 
wild grasses for food. Some of these, indeed, furnish 
very fair-sized grain and from such our cultivated 
cereals are unquestionably derived, though we cannot 
now always trace them to their respective wild proto- 
types. An example of such a large-grained wild grass 
is the recently discovered Wild Emmer of Palestine, 
which is considered by some to represent the original 
wild form from which certain of our cultivated wheats 
were derived. 

Among the cereal grasses, wheat is by far the 
most important to the western world. It was first 
brought to this continent into Mexico by the Spaniards 
in 1520, later into New England and into Virginia by 
the early settlers. In Europe and in Asia it has been 
grown for thousands of years. In Europe it has been 
discovered in various places in remains of the later 
Stone Age. It has been grown about the eastern end 
of the Mediterranean and in Mesopotamia for at least 
five or six thousand years. It was cultivated in Baby- 
lonia and has been found in ancient Egyptian graves. 
To the far east it was grown in ancient China, to the 
south in India, and in Abyssinia in Africa. Its pres- 
ence in several varieties even in Europe in pre-historic 
times and its ancient wide distribution would seem to 
be evidence that the beginning of its cultivation be- 

r longs to the earliest history of mankind. Unless the 
cultivation of wheat was undertaken independently in 
the various regions, its place of origin must be con- 


2 Field Museum of Natural History 

sidered to coincide approximately with the location of 
a probable early center of dispersion of the human 
race in the old world. This is generally placed in 
central Asia, perhaps somewhat to the westward, 
about the region of eastern Turkestan where climatic 
conditions in the time of primitive man are likely to 
have been more favorable than they are now. 

Some primitive wheats are still grown to an ex- 
tent in Southern Europe. These are Einkorn, Em- 
mer and Spelt. They are stamped as primitive by 
certain characteristics which they share with the wild 
grasses of the genus Triticum (an old Latin name for 
wheat) to which they belong. Like these they have a 
fragile, articulated head which breaks into segments 
on threshing, and their mature grain refuses to sepa- 
rate readily from its envelopes. In the other culti- 
vated wheats the axis of the head is stout and not 
articulated, resisting breakage, while the ripe grain 
comes away easily and clean. 

In the illustration, Nos. 1, 2, and 3 represent wild 
grasses related to wheat. Nos. 4, 5, and 6 are the 
primitive cultivated wheats. 

No. 4. Einkorn, one-grained wheat, is so called 
because it has a single seed in each division (little 
spike or "spikelet") of the head. It yields a scanty 
crop but will grow in stony ground and is still culti- 
vated to a small extent in mountainous South Europ- 
ean regions — notably in Spain. It has been found in 
the remains of the lake dwellers of the stone age. The 
wild form still grows in Southeastern Europe — e. g. 
in Serbia. 

No. 5. Emmer, also known as starch wheat or two- 
grained spelt, is another bristly or awned form with a 
flattened head. It exists in many varieties. It was 
cultivated by the ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, 


Wheat 3 

Persians, and by the Greeks and Romans. It has been 
identified in remains of the Swiss lake dwellers. It is 
still grown in mountainous Switzerland, in Russia 
where it is used for a gruel, in Germany, in Italy and 
in Spain. It is grown somewhat in the United States. 
The illustration is of a Black Winter Emmer. 

No. 6. Spelt, is usually stated to be the oldest of 
the cultivated grains and considered to have been the 
wheat of Egypt, Greece and Rome, which is probably 
partly erroneous, due to a confusion with Emmer. 
It was cultivated, however, by the Romans in the later 
days of the Empire. A wild prototype is not known. 
It is still grown in some South European localities, 
particularly in northern Spain. 

No. 7. Polish Wheat, sometimes called "Jerusa- 
lem rye" or "Giant rye," is a hard wheat of very char- 
acteristic appearance due largely to the length of the 
papery bracts of the individual spikelets. The grain 
is elongated, resembling rye, and falls readily from the 
mature head. In spite of its name it is not a native of 
Poland. It is cultivated in Spain, in Italy, in Turkes- 
tan and in Abyssinia. It is also introduced into the 
United States, but to date is not of much economic 

No. 8. Poulard Wheat is also known as English 
Wheat, and a variety known as Rivet Wheat, is grown 
in England, but Poulard Wheat belongs of old to the 
dry eastern and southern Mediterranean region. It 
has a tendency to "sport," forming branching spikes 
or heads and hence is variously called Miracle Wheat, 
Seven-headed Wheat of Egypt, Jerusalem Wheat, etc. 
The illustration is of a variety known as Alaska, 
grown in the United States. In spite of the large size 
of the heads of the Poulard Wheat, the yield is not 
great and not equal in quality to some of the common 
wheats. It is of slight economic importance. 


4 Field Museum of Natural History 

No. 9. Club Wheat is so named from the shape 
of the heads which are short, thick, and often broader 
near the tip than below. The grain is soft, the stems 
are short and stout. It belongs to rather mild climates 
and the mountainous districts of Europe, Turkestan 
and Abyssinia. It is introduced on this continent, 
and is grown particularly in Chile and in the Pacific 
and Rocky Mountain States. 

No. 10. Durum Wheat is an extremely hard, 
flinty wheat from Russia, brought to the United States 
by early immigrants. It is economically important, 
as are those which follow. The flour produced from 
it is higher in gluten and conversely lower in starch 
content than other wheats and is used in the manu- 
facture of semolina and macaroni and other pastes. 
For bread making it is sometimes mixed with flour of 
the more starchy, softer wheats. Durum Wheat, also, 
is said to have been found in old Egyptian remains. It 
is grown in India, in Algeria, and is the principal wheat 
crop of Spain. It is resistant to rust and is especially 
adapted to somewhat arid land, being also resistant to 
drought. On this continent Durum is grown success- 
fully in South and Central America, and in the United 
States in the Great Plains Area, particularly towards 
its Rocky Mountain border. The illustration is of the 
variety Arnautka which grows well in the more humid 
eastern portion of the Great Plains. 

No. 11. Turkey Wheat, originally from South 
Russia, the Crimea, etc., is now the leading hard winter 
wheat of the United States and endures well the low 
winter temperature of the Northwestern States, except 
where the climate is very severe, as in North Dakota. 

No. 12. Wilhelmina, a stout, soft white wheat 
from Holland, represents a type of winter wheat com- 
monly grown in North Europe. It has been introduced 
into the United States. 


Wheat 5 

No. 13. Pacific Bluestem, an Australian variety, 
somehow misnamed "bluestem," is the leading soft 
white spring wheat of the Pacific area. 

No. 14. Dicklow, a soft spring wheat cultivated 
under irrigation in Idaho and elsewhere, produces a 
remarkably large head. It was originated by a Utah 
farmer, Dick Low, through selection from variants of 
a California Club Wheat. 

No. 15. Marquis Wheat originated in Canada, by 
selection from hybrids of a hard, red wheat from Cal- 
cutta, India, and Red Fife Wheat. It is the leading, 
hard, red, spring wheat of the Northern Great Plains 

No. 16. Red Fife Wheat is one of the principal 
hard spring wheats of the Great Plains Region. It 
originated in Canada among a few plants, from a 
sample winter wheat from Russia. It now represents 
a parent stem from which many varieties of northern 
wheats have been derived. 

No. 17. Kitchener Wheat is another hard, spring 
wheat of the Red Fife type from the plains of the 
Canadian northwest. 

The varieties of common wheat are very numerous. 
According to a survey by the Department of Agricul- 
ture over two hundred, well defined kinds are recog- 
nized in the United States. There are bearded and 
smooth wheats, hard and soft, red and white, spring 
and winter, etc. Of the common wheats shown in the 
illustration (Nos. 11 to 17) Turkey Wheat is the only 
bristly, bearded, or awned form, the others are almost 
awnless or entirely beardless. The well-known divi- 
sion of wheats into spring and winter wheats has 
reference to their resistance to cold, but also to ability 
to mature their seed in a single, short growing season. 
The grasses from which the cereals are derived are 


6 Field Museum of Natural History 

perennials while the cultivated cereals are, on the 
whole, annuals. The ideal climate for wheat is one 
with a mild winter, a cool and moist spring conducive 
to abundant development of the vegetative part of the 
plant, followed by a warm, dry summer for rapid 
ripening of the grain. Wheats which in their proper 
latitudes withstand the low temperature of winter 
without injury are known as winter wheats. True 
winter wheats are "winter annuals" only and will not 
ripen seed when sown in the spring. They are sown 
in the fall, and germinate and form roots before the 
onset of cold weather. Starting in the spring with a 
partly developed root system they make a vigorous, 
early growth. They ordinarily show a higher yield, 
are more likely to escape rust, and mature their grain 
earlier than the spring sown wheats. The spring 
wheats are more tender varieties that complete their 
growth in one season and in spite of a later start 
mature their grains. In northern latitudes only spring 
wheats can be grown. In mild climates both spring 
and winter wheats may be grown from fall sowing. 
As a rule the hard winter wheats are more resistant 
to cold than are the soft, but all wheats naturally be- 
long to somewhat more moderate climates than their 
northerly relative rye. 

Hard and soft wheats differ in the composition of 
the grain. The soft wheats are richer in starch and 
are likely to have large grains, while the hard, with 
smaller grains, are relatively richer in gluten. Flour 
made from soft wheat is esteemed for cake and pastry 
making, but by itself is "weak" and out of a given 
quantity does not make a large loaf. Hard wheats 
make a "strong" flour which, on account of the binding 
properties of gluten, retains the gas produced by the 
yeast and make a light loaf. They are now generally 
mixed in different proportions for various purposes. 


Wheat 7 

Under normal conditions the chief wheat-growing 
countries in order of quantity produced before the 
world war were : United States, Russia, France, India, 
Italy, in the first rank; Spain, Austria-Hungary, Ger- 
many, in the second ; followed by Canada, Argentina, 
Turkey and the United Kingdom. The latter is the 
chief importing country. The order, however, varies 
with the period considered. The wheat production of 
Canada and of Argentina has been steadily rising. 
Northern India, China, and Australia produce wheat 
in considerable quantities. In order of normal per 
capita consumption of wheat, France came first, then 
New Zealand, Australia, United States, Great Britain, 
Austria-Hungary, Germany and Canada. 

The statement is not infrequently made that the 
world's wheat production has reached its limit, but 
this is far from the truth. While the older method of 
milling prevailed, pulverizing the entire wheat for 
flour, the softer wheats were preferred and wheat 
growing was largely restricted to regions producing 
them. With the introduction into the flour mills of 
the steel roller process, by which the contents of the 
kernel are simply squeezed out of the husk, it was 
found that a most desirable, better keeping flour could 
be produced from hard, northern and western wheats. 
Wheat growing in the United States thereby received 
a great impetus and the producing area was vastly 
expanded over the great plains. By the opening of 
new regions like Siberia and by the introduction of 
suitable, perhaps new, varieties such as undoubtedly 
will result from scientifically conducted, systematic 
breeding experiments, the world's wheat production 
certainly is capable of considerable further expansion. 

B. E. Dahlgren. 


Field Museum of Natural History 


The three primitive wheats (Nos. 3, 4, 5) are considered by 
one authority to be representative respectively of three groups, 
each derived from a different wild prototype, viz., Einkorn 
group (No. 4 only); Emmer group (Nos. 5, 8, 9, 10); Spelt 
group (Nos. 6, 11, 12-17). 

The generally accepted botanical classification of wheats is 
as follows: Einkorn (Triticum monococcum) , Polish Wheat (Tri- 
ticum polonicum) , Wheat and Spelt (Triticum sativum), the latter 
subdivided into three races, viz., Spelts (T. spelta) , Emmers (T. 
dicoccum) , and Wheats (T. tenax), the last comprising four sub- 
races: Poulard Wheat (T. turgidum), Durum Wheat (T. durum), 
Club Wheat (T. compactum), and Common Wheat (T. aestivum), 
with numerous varieties. 

The exhibits in the Field Museum of Wheat and of other 
Cereal Grasses are to be found in the Department of Botany, 
Halls 25 and 28, on the second floor. 

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