Pennisetum glaucum (Linnaeus) R. Brown
Pocheae (Grass) Family
The leaf collar (the area where the blade meets the
sheath) is pubescent with upward pointing hairs. The leaf sheath
is glabrous or pubescent.
Pearl Millet is an introduced herbaceous annual in the
Grass family (Poaceae). It is native to the Sahel region of Africa
from Sudan to Senegal. The species has been cultivated for over
4,000 years and is grown in tropical and subtropical countries
world-wide. In occurs throughout Alabama. Pearl Millet grows
on roadsides, along railroad tracks, and in disturbed areas.
It is an annual with a fibrous root system. Stems are from 3-5
feet in height. Stems are usually unbranched, but tillers (above
ground shoots produced at the base of a grass plant) are often
present. Prop roots (roots produced above ground and angled away
from the stem into the soil) are often present. The stems are
green or reddish in color, glabrous, with (usually) upwardly
The leaves are alternate, linear, and glabrous or pubescent.
The base of the leaf blade partially wraps around the stem.
The flowers are produced in a dense spike-like raceme,
measuring 1 to 2 feet long.
The fruit is a grain.
Pearl Millet is often grown in semi-arid regions with too
little rain for corn or sorghum. It is a major food crop in parts
of Africa and India. In the United States, it is grown primarily
for its grain which is used for livestock feed (mainly chickens
in the US), and for bird seed (the round white or tan seed).
It is also used as hay or silage for cattle. It is sometimes
planted to stabilize soil and prevent erosion. Hybrids of pearl
millet and Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) have been
developed. They benefit from the desirable characteristics of
pearl millet such as vigor, drought resistance, disease tolerance,
forage quality and seed size, whereas Napier grass provides rusticity,
aggressiveness, perennity, palatability and high dry matter yield.
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