Wheatgrass has many uses, ranging from food for people and animals to alternative medicine to erosion control. This perennial grass is related to wheat, which is an annual. Very drought tolerant and not difficult to grow, wheatgrass is an important plant.
Grain for Humans
Wild triga is the term for intermediate wheatgrass used for grain. This form of wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) is a perennial crop. This is an advantage for farming over other grains, as they are annuals. Wild triga seeds are either ground into flour or cooked like rice. This grain has a nutty flavor and has a higher percentage of protein than wheat.
Wheatgrass is available in pill form, liquid, juice and fresh plants. This plant provides vitamins A, B, C and E and has many minerals. Proponents of using wheatgrass for health benefits believe that 4 oz. of wheatgrass reportedly has the equivalent vitamins and minerals of 4 lbs. of organic green vegetables. However, there are no studies to reinforce this claim. Wheatgrass allegedly treats many ailments, ranging from cancer to plantar fasciitis. However, there no studies to confirm these claims. Additionally, the National Council Against Health Fraud does not support the use of wheatgrass to cure disease.
Grazing and Forage
Crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) is commonly used as forage for animals. It is especially preferred in the spring, because the plant reportedly has up to 18 percent protein and by summer it only has 4 percent protein. Crested wheatgrass is popular as forage because it can handle heavy grazing. Another type of wheatgrass, tall wheatgrass (Agropyron elongatum), is also used as forage. This wheatgrass thrives in saline soil.
Erosion Control and Land Reclamation
In addition to forage, crested wheatgrass is good for erosion control and land reclamation. The high drought tolerance, good root system and strong seedlings make it an excellent plant for these purposes. In addition, this grass can be used for lawns, especially where water is limited.