Around three hundred varieties of Valais barley show a range of shapes, those with:
- two lines or six lines
- straight ears or curved ears
- grains with glumes or without glume
- Grains with husksare called husks. They can be used as feed barley. For cooking, they must first be peeled. This working process in the mill is called rolling, therefore the term rolling barley. Grains without husks are called naked barley, which can be cooked or ground as whole grains. In the Upper Valais, naked barley was also called wheat barley. The difference between roller barley and naked barley is that when the grains are completely cooked, flour particles from the grain enter the liquid in the roller barley, resulting in a creamy soup (Bündner Barley Soup). When the naked barley is cooked, the grains remain more or less whole, the skin remains on, and the result is soft grains, comparable to a dish of dry rice.
- colors in general yellow or white-yellow
- long edges (almost all varieties of barley have them)