Back to Biodiversity Explorer main pageGo to Iziko Museums of Cape Town home pageAbout Biodiversity Explorer - history, goals, etc.Send us your questions about southern African biodiversityPeople who have contributed content and images.Search Biodiversity Explorer

Genus: Avena (oats genus)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Monocotyledons > Order: Poales > Family: Poaceae

There are about 25 species worldwide (native to the Mediterranean and Middle East) of which five have been introduced to southern Africa and become naturalised, including Avena sativa (Oats), which is cultivated for the production of oats, the primary ingredient of porridge.

Species naturalised in southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI) and Flora of Zimbabwe.

Avena barbata


Avena byzantina


Avena fatua

Avena sativa (oats)

Oat plants were domesticated in Europe, as late as 1000-2000 BC and now is cultivated worldwide, including southern Africa. Oats is a healthy cereal because it contains high protein levels, antioxidants and a substance that reduces blood cholestrol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.


Avena sterilis


Other species, cultivated in southern Africa

From Glen (2002).

Avena nuda (Naked oats)

Native to Europe.



  • Fish, L. 2003. Poaceae. In Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds), Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14: 1152-1194. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria. 

  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.


Contact us if you can contribute information or images to improve this page.

Biodiversity Explorer home   Iziko home   Search