Foxtail millet

Foxtail millet
Foxtail millet
Immature seedhead
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Panicoideae
Genus: Setaria
Species: S. italica
Binomial name
Setaria italica
(L.) P. Beauvois

Panicum italicum L.
Chaetochloa italica (L.) Scribn.

Foxtail millet (botanic name Setaria italica) is the second most widely planted species of millet, and the most important in East Asia. It has the longest history of cultivation among the millets, having been grown in China since sometime in the sixth millennium BC. Other names for foxtail millet include Italian millet, German millet, Chinese millet, and Hungarian millet.

Foxtail millet is an annual grass with slim, vertical, leafy stems which can reach a height of 120–200 cm (3.9–6.6 ft). The seedhead is a dense, hairy panicle 5–30 cm (2.0–12 in) long. The small seeds, around 2 mm (less than 1/8 in.) in diameter, are encased in a thin, papery hull which is easily removed in threshing. Seed color varies greatly between varieties.


Common names for Foxtail millet

  • In India: Tinai, chamai, kavalai, kambankorai are some of the names for millet in Tamil. Nuvanam is millet flour. The gruel made from millet, the staple of Ancient Tamils, is called kali, moddak kali, kuul, and sangati. Korralu (Telugu), Navane (Kannada)
  • In Chinese-Speaking Territories: Xiao Mi (小米), meaning 'Little Rice'.


Foxtail millet

In China, foxtail millet is the most common millet and one of the main food crops, especially among the poor in the dry northern part of that country. In Europe and North America it is planted at a moderate scale for hay and silage, and to a more limited extent for birdseed.

It is a warm season crop, typically planted in late spring. Harvest for hay or silage can be made in 65–70 days (typical yield is 15,000-20,000 kg/ha of green matter or 3,000-4,000 kg/ha of hay), and for grain in 75–90 days (typical yield is 800–900 kg/ha of grain). Its early maturity and efficient use of available water make it suitable for raising in dry areas.

Diseases of foxtail millet include leaf and head blast disease caused by Magnaporthe grisea, smut disease caused by Ustilago crameri, and green ear caused by Sclerospora graminicola. The unharvested crop is also susceptible to attack by birds and rodents.

History and domestication

The wild antecedent of foxtail millet has been securely identified as Setaria viridis, which is interfertile with foxtail millet; wild or weedy forms of foxtail millet also exist. Zohary and Hopf note that the primary difference between the wild and cultivated forms is "their seed dispersal biology. Wild and weedy forms shatter their seed while the cultivars retain them."[1] The earliest evidence of the cultivation of this grain comes from the Peiligang culture of China, which also cultivated the common millet, but foxtail millet became the predominant grain only with the Yangshao culture.[1]

Foxtail millet arrived in Europe later; carbonized seeds first appear in the second millennium BC in central Europe. The earliest definite evidence for its cultivation in the Near East is at the Iron Age levels at Tille Hoyuk in Turkey, with an uncorrected radiocarbon date of about 600 BC.[1]

In Rayalaseema and telangana areas this is cooked like rice. A generation back this was the common food of the people in this region. Foxtail Millet is making a comeback again as this is more healthy than rice.


  1. ^ a b c Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of plants in the Old World, third edition (Oxford: University Press, 2000), p. 86-88

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • foxtail millet — ☆ foxtail millet n. a cultivated annual grass (Setaria italica) with dense, lobed, bristly spikes containing small grains, grown in Eurasia for grain and forage and in America mainly for birdseed …   English World dictionary

  • foxtail millet — noun coarse drought resistant annual grass grown for grain, hay, and forage in Europe and Asia and chiefly for forage and hay in United States • Syn: ↑Italian millet, ↑Hungarian grass, ↑Setaria italica • Hypernyms: ↑foxtail, ↑foxtail grass • Hyp …   Useful english dictionary

  • foxtail millet — italinė šerytė statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Miglinių šeimos daržovinis, grūdinis, pašarinis, prieskoninis augalas (Setaria italica), kilęs iš Kinijos. Naudojamas maisto priedams, gėrimams gaminti, grūdai – maistui. atitikmenys: lot.… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • foxtail millet — noun Date: circa 1899 a coarse drought resistant but frost sensitive annual grass (Setaria italica) grown for grain, hay, and forage …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • foxtail millet — a grass, Setaria italica, of numerous varieties, introduced into the U.S. from Europe and Asia, and grown chiefly for use as hay. [1895 1900] * * * …   Universalium

  • foxtail millet — noun Setaria italica …   Wiktionary

  • foxtail millet — fox′tail mil′let n. pln a grass, Setaria italica, grown for use as hay …   From formal English to slang

  • millet — [mil′it] n. [ME milet < MFr, dim. of mil < L milium, millet < IE * melēi , var. of base * mel , to grind > MILL1, Gr melinē, millet] 1. a) a cereal grass (Panicum miliaceum) whose small grain is used for food in Europe and Asia b) the …   English World dictionary

  • Millet — For other uses, see Millet (disambiguation). Pearl millet in the field The millets are a group of small seeded species of cereal crops or grains, widely grown around the world for food and …   Wikipedia

  • foxtail bristle grass — italinė šerytė statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Miglinių šeimos daržovinis, grūdinis, pašarinis, prieskoninis augalas (Setaria italica), kilęs iš Kinijos. Naudojamas maisto priedams, gėrimams gaminti, grūdai – maistui. atitikmenys: lot.… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

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