From emmer to the origin of wheat

edited by Oriana Porfiri Agronomist, PhD
Consultant of Prometeo

Classification of wheat and hulled wheat

“Farro” is the name commonly used in Italy forcultivated hulled wheat, which include three different species whose modern classification, based on specific studies of molecular genetics, is as follows:

  • Einkorn (“farro piccolo” or “monococco”)
    (Triticum monococcum L. ssp. monococcum, for simplicity on this site it will be referred to as T. monococcum);
  • Emmer wheat, simply emmer (“farro” or “dicocco) (T. turgidum L. ssp. dicoccumSchubler (sinonimo T. dicocconSchrank),referred to for simplicity as T. dicoccum);
  • Spelt (T. aestivum L. ssp. spelta, referred to for simplicity as T. spelta).

Generally, the name “farro” is used for the most widespread species in Italy and in the Mediterranean basin, namely emmer. Spelt is cultivated more in Northern Europe, whilst einkorn is only cultivated sporadically.
All three species belong to the Poacee (formerly Graminacee) family and to the Triticum genus. The base number of chromosomes is x = 7 in all the species that, in relation to the total number of chromosomes, are distinguished as diploid (such as einkorn), tetraploid (such as emmer) and hexaploid (such as spelt).
Classification of the Triticum genus has undergone numerous changes over time. Thanks to genetic studies and the use of molecular markers the modern classification can be considered reasonably correct as referred in table 1 (you can see the table clicking on “read more” below)