) is a grass of the wheat tribe (Triticeae) and is closely related to barley and wheat. It is grown primarily in Eastern, Central and Northern Europe, as grain and as a forage crop. Rye is also grown in North America, South America, Turkey, Kazakstan and in northern China. Rye is a cereal grain and should not be confused with ryegrass, which is commonly used for lawns, pastures, and hay for livestock.
Rye is a valuable crop in regions where the soil has sand or peat, and grows well in poorer soils. Rye plants can withstand cold better than any other small grains do.
Rye grain is used for flour, rye bread, rye beer, some whiskies, some vodkas, and as animal fodder. It can be eaten whole, either as boiled rye berries, or by being rolled, just like rolled oats. Rye flour has a lower gluten content than wheat flour, and has a high proportion of soluble fiber.
Pumpernickle, a type of very heavy, slightly sweet rye bread traditionally made with coarsely ground rye, is widely eaten in Northern and Eastern Europe. Rye is also used to make crisp bread or hard bread, a type of flat and dry bread or cracker.
Rye flakes are made from rye groats (hulled rye) which are steamed and rolled into a flake. Rye flakes are usually added to soups, stews, cakes and breads.
Rye is highly susceptible to the ergot fungus, and consumption of ergot-infected rye by humans and animals results in ergotism, a serious medical condition which can cause both physical and mental harm, such as convulsions, miscarriage, necrosis of digits, and hallucinations.