The WALA Plant Library
Common Oat

Synonyms for Common Oat: Oats
Scientific Name: Avena sativa L
Family: Poaceae (grass family)


During a walk in the countryside one of the most frequent questions asked when passing a cornfield is “What type of grain is growing here?” The easiest crop to identify is Common Oat, which reaches a height of up to one metre and has seed heads quite different to those of wheat, rye or barley. Common Oat is a cultivated plant belonging to the panicle-forming grasses. This means that its grains do not grow in compact ears, like wheat, but are loosely grouped at the tip of the stem, where they blow in the wind. Little spikelets of two to four florets are attached by short stems to the loose panicles. The oat grains develop from the self-pollinating flowers which blossom between June and August, and are loosely enclosed by two firm, pointed bracts known as glumes. A widely branching network of roots allows the undemanding oat to grow in poor soils.