As Tominaga and Fujimoto (2004) have shown, darnel is one of a select group of weeds that persists through maintenance of a seed-bank, not in the soil but in grain stocks. The use of herbicides, advanced crop varieties and seed cleaning technology in intensive cereal production has more or less completely eliminated darnel from the agriculture of developed countries, where it is now classified as a rare species (Tominaga and Yamasue 2004). But darnel continues to be an abundant weed of cereals in North Africa and South and West Asia. For example: Ghanem and Hershko (1981), in a study of liver disease in Israeli Arabs, reported the presence of Lolium (presumably darnel) in the cereal grain stores of two out of nine villages surveyed; Tominaga and Fujimoto (2000) recorded contamination of barley grain stocks by darnel in an Ethiopian village market to be as high as 9.4%; and Musselman (2000) found that darnel was plentiful in the wheat fields of Northern Syria, in the mountains east of Latakia and at a threshing site near Quneitra. The occurrence of the many words for darnel in the languages of lands to which it was carried by the spread of agriculture and the trade in cereals (Harlan 1981, Balfourier et al. 2000; Fig. 2) testifies to the agricultural and social significance of this species (Table 3).
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