Rye (Secale cereale) is a grass, and a member of the wheat tribe (Triticeae). It is closely related to barley and wheat.
Rye is native to central and eastern Turkey, but does not appear in the archaeological record until about 1800BC. Earlier reports from the Euphrates remain controversial. Since the Middle Ages, rye has been the main cereal grown in Central and Eastern Europe.
Rye is widely grown as a grain crop, and as a forage crop. It grows well in poorer soils, making particularly valuable in sandy and peat regions. It can also survive snow cover.
Rye grains are used for flour, rye bread (eg. pumpernickel), rye beer, and some spirits (eg. some whiskeys and vodkas).
Rye should not be confused with ryegrass. Rye is a cereal grain, whilst ryegrass is a grass used for lawns, pasture, and hay.