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Cerealgrass (Secale cereale) and its edible grain, used to make rye bread and rye whiskey, as livestock feed, and as a pasture plant. Native to South Asia, today it is grown extensively in Europe, Asia, and North America. It is planted mainly where climate and soil are relatively unfavourable for other cereals and as a winter crop where temperatures are too cold for winter wheat. Rye thrives at high altitudes and is the most winter-hardy of all small grains. It is high in carbohydrates and provides small quantities of protein, potassium, and B vitamins. Only rye and wheat have the necessary qualities to make a loaf of bread, but rye lacks the elasticity of wheat and thus is frequently blended with wheat flour. The tough fibrous straw of rye is used for animal bedding, thatching, mattresses, hats, and paper. Rye may be grown as a green manure crop.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on rye, visit Britannica.com.