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Triticum compactum or club wheat is a species of wheat adapted to low-humidity growing conditions. T. compactum is similar enough to common wheat (T. aestivum) that it is often considered a subspecies, T. aestivum compactum. It can be distinguished by its more compact ear due to shorter rachis segments, giving it its common name. In the United States of America, nearly all T. compactum is grown in dry areas of the Pacific Northwest.

Triticum compactum
Triticum compactum0.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Pooideae
Genus: Triticum
T. compactum
Binomial name
Triticum compactum

T. compactum is a hexaploid with 21 chromosomes. T. compactum, like other club wheats, has been selectively bred for its lower protein content. Due to the process of selective breeding T. compactum has fewer HMW-glutenin genes than other species of wheat. Flour made from T. compactum is thus better suited for the production of cookies.[1] T. compactum like other bread wheats have never been observed to grow in the wild.[2]



Middle East and EuropeEdit

The oldest primitive forms of T. compactum appear to have first arisen, along with similar wheats, in neolithic Syria .[2][3][4] From Syria T. compactum spread to Europe and was considered to be the oldest wheat species cultivated in Europe until the 1940s when older tertraploid varieties of wheat were identified.[5] T. compactum appears in Europe for the first time during the Neolithic Era reaching as far as Spain by 4600 BC.[6] Evidence of T. compactum in Portugal[7] and France[8] demonstrates that the Romans cultivated T. compactum on the Iberian peninsula during the first and second centuries BCE. Evidence of T. compactum found along with barley in an east Finnish settlement reveals that T. compactum was cultivated in Finland starting between fifth and seventh centuries AD.[9]

North AmericaEdit

T. compactum was believed to have been introduced to North America from Chile by Pacific shipping routes during the 1960s and '70s.[10] However analysis of adobe bricks in San Antonio, San Fernando, Soledad, San José, San Juan Bautista and Sonoma missions revealed that T. compactum was present in California by the year 1787 and was likely introduced by Spaniards through Mexico.[11]T. compactum was farmed extensively during the beginning of California's agricultural history. Data even suggests that T. compactum was farmed more than the related T. aestivum during this time. T. compactum erinaceum, also called California Club Wheat, was a bearded, hairy rachis, red-chaffed subspecies of T. compactum that is thought to have disappeared before 1822.[12] As production of American wheat drastically increased during the early twentieth century[13] T. aestivum rose in popularity surpassing T. compactum. Today most T. compactum is grown alongside T. aestivum because of their similar nature.


Ears of T. compactum

Unfossilized specimenEdit

T. compactum is small free-threshing club wheat with rounded grains.[8] In T. compactum like other bread and club wheats there is a keel on the upper section of the otherwise flat glume.[5]T. compactum characteristically has a smaller, crooked crease than other species of wheat and smaller cheek size at the brush end.[3] T. compactum is identifiable from T. aestivum mainly by its shorter rachis segments and compact ear for which it is named.[1] The now extinct subspecies of T. compactum, T. compactum erinaceum or California club wheat, can be distinguished from other subspecies by its red chaff and hairier rachides.[12] The below chart indicates the physiological factors that can be used to distinguish between various subspecies and varieties of T. compactum:[14]

Triticum compactum
Spike awnless
Glumes glabrous
Glumes white
Kernels white
Triticum compactum humboldtii
Soft to semi-hard
Winter habit

Hybrid 128

var. Albit

Intermediate habit

Hybrid 143

Spring habit
Plant short

var. Poso

Plant tall

var. Little club

var Big club

Semi-hard to hard

Hybrid 63

Kernels red
Triticum compactum wernerianum

Hybrid 123

Glumes brown
Kernels white
Triticum compactum rufulum
Winter habit

var. Genro

Spring habit
Spike oblong-fusiform
spike mid-dense

var. Hood

spike dense

var. Jenkin

Spike clávate
Glumes light-brown

var. Redchaff

Glumes bluish-brown

var. Bluechaff

Glumes pubescent
Glumes brown
Kernels white
Triticum compactum wittmaddanum

var. Coppei

Spike awned
Glumes glabrous
Glumes brown
Kernels red
Triticum compactum erinaceum

var. Mayview

Fossilized specimenEdit

Most ancient T. compactum was cultivated between the Neolithic era and the Bronze Age and thus the most common evidence of ancient T. compactum is carbonized. Although carbonized wheat may often resemble it unfossilized counterpart and can often be identified with the same methods describe above it is sometimes difficult to distinguish carbonized wheat this way due to a damaged or incomplete specimen. As a general rule, if a naked wheat, wheat with round grains and irregularly broken rachis forming internodes, is uncovered in a European site, excluding all sites on the Italian or Balkan peninsulas, it should be considered a hexaploid club wheat (either T. aestivum or T. compactum ). If such wheat has short internodes it should be identified as T. compactum.[15]


Triticum compactum generally flowers during the months of June and July with its seeds ripening in August and September. Triticum compactum is an annual plant growing to heights of approximately 0.6 meters in the summer and dying in the winter.[16]


  1. ^ a b "Club wheat: Functionally, the best sub-class and sub-species in soft wheat". Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  2. ^ a b Harold J. E. Peake. March 1939. 36. The First Cultivation of Wheat. Man. Vol.39. p.36.
  3. ^ a b Henry Field. April, 1932. Ancient Wheat and Barley from Kish, Mesopotamia. American Anthropologist. Vol. 34, No. 2.
  4. ^ Robert H. Dyson, Jr. 1953. The Archaeological Evidence of Cultivated Wheat and Barley in near Eastern Prehistory. Memoirs of the Society for American Archaeology. No. 9. p.8
  5. ^ a b Ursula Maier. 1996. Morphological studies of free-threshing wheat ears from a Neolithic site in southwest Germany, and the history of the naked wheats. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. Vol.5, No.1/2.
  6. ^ Ernestina Badal, Joan Bernabeu and Jean Louis Vernet. 1994. "Vegetation changes and human action from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age (7000-4000 B.P.) in Alicante, Spain, based on charcoal analysis". Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. Vol. 3, No. 3.
  7. ^ João Pedro Tereso. November 2009. Plant macrofossils from the Roman settlement of Terronha de Pinhovelo, northwest Iberia. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. Vol. 18, No. 6.
  8. ^ a b Julian Wiethold. 1996. Late Celtic and early Roman plant remains from the oppidum of Bibracte, Mont Beuvray (Burgundy, France). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. Vol. 5, No. 1/2.
  9. ^ Teija Alenius, Esa Mikkola and Antti E. K. Ojala. March, 2008. History of agriculture in Mikkeli Orijärvi, eastern Finland as reflected by palynological and archaeological data. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. Vol. 17, No. 2.
  10. ^ Clark, J. A., J. H. Martin, and C. R. Ball. 1922. Classification of American wheat varieties. (United States Department of Agriculture Profeesional Paper Bul. No. 1074.)
  11. ^ George W. Hendry, and Margaret P. Kelly. December 1970. The Plant Content of Adobe Bricks: With a Note on Adobe Brick Making. California Historical Society Quarterly. p. 366
  12. ^ a b Davis, Horace. 1894. California Breadstuffs. (Chicago. The University of Chicago Press.)
  13. ^ Stine, Oscar Clemen; Ball, Charles Richard (1922). Wheat production and marketing (Public domain ed.). Government Printing Office. pp. 85–.
  14. ^ J. Allen Clark and B. B. Bayles. 1935. Classification of Wheat Varieties Grown In The United States. United States Department of Agriculture.
  15. ^ M.E. Kislev. 1984. Emergence of Wheat Agriculture. Paléorient. Vol. 10, No. 2. p. 66.
  16. ^ "Triticum aestivum compactum - (Host.)Mackey". Plants For A Future. Retrieved 25 November 2014.