The temperate annual grass Brachypodium distachyon is a diploid species with a chromosome base number of 5. It is strikingly different from other Eurasian species of the genus, which are perennial and often polyploid, with the diploids typically having base numbers of 8 or 9. Previously, phylogenies indicated that B. distachyon split from the other species early in the evolution of the genus, while its genome sequence revealed that extensive synteny on a chromosomal scale had been maintained with rice, a tropical grass with a base number of 12. Here we show evidence that B. distachyon may have a homoploid origin, involving ancestral interspecific hybridisation, although it does not appear to be a component of any of the perennial Eurasian allopolyploids. Using a cytogenetic approach, we show that dysploidy in Brachypodium has not followed a simple progression.