Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Oat (Avena sativa), a well-known and valuable cereal grass, having its spikelets in a loose panicle and a long awn (q.v.), projecting from the dorsal rib of its outer glume. It is probably a variety of the wild A. fatua, is found in Swiss lake-dwellings of the Bronze Age, and was used as a bread-stuff by the ancient Germans, according to Pliny. Oats are largely grown in Scotland, Ireland, and the north of England where wheat will not flourish, about 4 million acres, yielding from 38 to 40 bushels per acre, being generally under this crop in the United Kingdom. In 1890 we imported over 12-1/2 million cwts. of the grain, chiefly from northern Europe. Oats are also largely grown in the northern United States. The straw is valuable for mixing with fodder, and the grain is the most valuable food for horses; but the meal is the staple food of man in many countries where wheat does not flourish. It is largely eaten as porridge, and, being richer in albuminoids, fat, sugar, and saline constituents than wheat, is of very high nutritive value. The whole grain, deprived of its husks, is known as groats or grits, and is used for gruel.