Wheat’s Evil Twin Has Been Intoxicating Humans For Centuries – Gastro Obscura

FOR MANY CENTURIES, PERHAPS FOR as long as humans have cultivated cereal grains, wheat’s evil twin has insinuated itself into our crops. In a big enough dose, this grass, darnel, can kill a person, and farmers would have to take care to separate it out from their true harvest—unless they were planning to add darnel to beer or bread on purpose, in order to get high.

Darnel occupies a grey area in human agricultural history. It’s definitely not good for us. When people eat its seeds, they get dizzy, off-balance and nauseous, and its official name, L. temulentum, comes from a Latin word for “drunk.”

Darnel is a “mimic weed,” neither entirely tame or quite wild, that looks and behaves so much like wheat that it can’t live without human assistance. Darnel seeds are stowaways: the plant’s survival strategy requires its seeds to be harvested along with those of domesticated grasses, stored and replanted next season.

Wheat’s Evil Twin Has Been Intoxicating Humans For Centuries – Gastro Obscura