Secale L. is a small but important genus that includes cultivated rye. Although genetic diversity of cultivated rye is high, patterns of genetic diversity in the whole genus, and potential factors affecting the distribution of genetic diversity remain elusive. The population structure and distribution of genetic variation within Secale, and its correlation with taxonomic delimitation, cultivation status or spatial distribution in relation to geography and climate zones were analyzed in this study. A collection of 726 individual plants derived from 139 different accessions representing Secale cereale, S. vavilovii, S. strictum, and S. sylvestre were investigated using SSR analysis and sequence diversity analysis of a nuclear EST region. Our results indicated that perennial S. strictum subspecies are genetically divergent from annual forms of the genus. Existence of two distinct clusters within the annual taxa was observed, one corresponding to samples from Asia, and a second to those outside of Asia. No clear genetic structure was observed between different annual species/subspecies, indicating introgression between these taxa. The analysis of cultivated rye revealed that landrace populations from the Middle East have the highest genetic diversity, supporting the idea of the area being the center of origin for cultivated rye. Considering high adaptive potential of those populations, Middle Eastern landraces should be regarded as genetic resources reservoirs for new niches and future breeding programs.