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Secale cereale

Rye is a type of grass, usually grown as a grain or forage crop (meaning that it is fed to animals). It is a member of the wheat family of plants and is similar to wheat and barley. It is used to make flour, food for animals, and many types of alcoholic drinks.


Rye has not always been a plant humans can use. It was originally a wild plant. There are several wild plants in Turkey that are similar to rye.

Rye in a field.

Since the Middle Ages, rye has been used widely in Central and Eastern Europe. In these parts of the world, it is still one of the main ingredients in making bread. However, the number of people and businesses using rye is becoming lower. Rye is usually sold to buyers near to where it is grown.


Rye can be planted to feed animals or can be harvested for hay (dry grass). Rye is a strong plant that can survive in soil with a high or low pH. This means it can survive even if the soil is very acidic or alkaline. Other plants may struggle to survive in these pH levels.

Uses for humans

  • Rye bread, including pumpernickel. This is a popular bread in north and east Europe. It has advantages for a person's health, such as having a lower amount of gluten than wheat.
  • Alcoholic drinks, such as rye whiskey.


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