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Useful Tropical Plants

Cenchrus americanus

(L.) Morrone

Poaceae

+ Synonyms

Pennisetum americanum (L.) Leeke.

Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R.Br.

Pennisetum spicatum (L.) Korn.

Pennisetum typhoides (Burm.f.) Stapf & C.E.Hubb.

Pennisetum typhoideum Rich.

Setaria glauca (L.) P.Beauv.

Panicum americanum L.

Panicum glaucum L.

Holcus spicatus L.

Panicum indicum Mill.

Alopecurus typhoides Burm.f.

Panicum coeruleum Mill.

Holcus racemosus Forssk.

Panicum sericeum Aiton

Phleum africanum Lour.

Cenchrus spicatus (L.) Cav.

Penicillaria spicata (L.) Willd.

Penicillaria solitaria Stokes

Pennisetum solitarium Stokes

Setaria sericea (Aiton) P.Beauv.

Panicum spicatum (L.) Roxb.

Panicum involucratum Roxb.

Andropogon racemosus (Forssk.) Poir. ex Steud.

Penicillaria involucrata (Roxb.) Schult.

Panicum alopecuroides J.Koenig ex Trin.

Panicum holcoides Trin.

Penicillaria plukenetii Link

Pennisetum aureum Link

Pennisetum cereale Trin.

Setaria rufa Chevall.

Panicum compressum Balb. ex Steud.

Pennisetum giganteum Ten. ex Steud.

Penicillaria elongata Schrad. ex Schltdl.

Penicillaria nigritarum Schltdl.

Penicillaria typhoidea Schltdl.

Cenchrus pycnostachyus Steud.

Pennisetum megastachyum Steud.

Penicillaria arabica A.Braun

Penicillaria deflexa Andersson ex A.Braun

Penicillaria indica A.Braun

Penicillaria macrostachya Klotzsch ex A.Braun

Penicillaria mossambicensis A.Braun

Penicillaria roxburghii A.Braun

Penicillaria willdenowii Klotzsch ex A.Braun

Pennisetum indicum A.Braun

Pennisetum spicatum (L.) Körn.

Chamaeraphis glauca (L.) Kuntze

Pennisetum nigritarum (Schltdl.) T.Durand & Schinz

Pennisetum plukenetii (Link) T.Durand & Schinz

Ixophorus glaucus (L.) Nash

Holcus paniciformis Roxb. ex Hook.f.

Chaetochloa glauca (L.) Scribn.

Chaetochloa lutescens Stuntz

Setariopsis glauca (L.) Samp.

Setaria lutescens F.T.Hubb.

Pennisetum albicauda Stapf & C.E.Hubb.

Pennisetum ancylochaete Stapf & C.E.Hubb.

Pennisetum cinereum Stapf & C.E.Hubb.

Pennisetum echinurus (K.Schum.) Stapf & C.E.Hubb.

Pennisetum gambiense Stapf & C.E.Hubb.

Pennisetum gibbosum Stapf & C.E.Hubb.

Pennisetum leonis Stapf & C.E.Hubb.

Pennisetum maiwa Stapf & C.E.Hubb.

Pennisetum malacochaete Stapf & C.E.Hubb.

Pennisetum pycnostachyum Stapf & C.E.Hubb.

Common Name: Pearl Millet

Cenchrus americanus
Ripening seeds
Photograph by: SuSanA Secretariat
Creative Commons License
Cenchrus americanus Cenchrus americanus Cenchrus americanus Cenchrus americanus

General Information

Pearl millet is a vigorous, erect, freely tillering, tufted, annual grass with an extremely profuse root system. It can grow from 0.5 - 4 metres tall with leaves that can be 1 metre long on slender stems 1 - 3cm in diameter[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Pearl millet was first domesticated in the Sahel 2 - 3,000 BC., being derived from Pennisetum violaceum. Its cultivation spread gradually from there and now the plant is cultivated for its edible seed in tropical and sub-tropical areas through much of the world[
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
142
Title
Plants Consumed by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Brouk. B.
Publisher
Academic Press
Year
1975
ISBN
0-12-136450-x
Description
Readable but not very comprehensive.
]. It is a staple food for over 100,000,000 people, especially in parts of tropical Africa and India where it is too hot, dry and sandy for sorghum production[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The plant is especially suited to regions with a short growing season[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
236
Title
Manual of the Grasses of the United States
Publication
 
Author
Hitchcock. A. S.
Publisher
Dover Publications. New York.
Year
1971
ISBN
0-486-22717-0
Description
A nice and comprehensive flora, though a bit dated. Good line drawings of each plant, plus a brief idea of the habitat and a few notes on plant uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.

Range

Probably indigenous to the western Sahel zone in Africa[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Habitat

River banks in sandy soils, common as a weed[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitAnnual
Height3.00 m
PollinatorsWind
Cultivation StatusCultivated

Cultivation Details

A plant of the tropics and subtropics, succeeding from semi-arid to moist areas, it can be grown at elevations from sea level to 1,800 metres[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature ranges between 25 - 35°c, but can tolerate 12 - 40°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 400 - 900mm, but tolerates 200 - 1,700mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Requires a light well-drained soil in a sunny position[
162
Title
Ornamental Grasses.
Publication
 
Author
Grounds. R.
Publisher
Christopher Helm
Year
1989
ISBN
0-7470-1219-9
Description
Cultivation details of many of the grasses and bamboos. Well illustrated.
]. Tolerant of various soil conditions, especially of light and acid soils[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Its large and dense root system allows it to succeed in dry infertile soils[
160
Title
Wonder Crops. 1987.
Publication
 
Author
Natural Food Institute,
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Fascinating reading, this is an annual publication. Some reports do seem somewhat exaggerated though.
,
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Once established, the crop is fairly tolerant of salinity[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. This species is the most drought-resistant of all cereal crops[
162
Title
Ornamental Grasses.
Publication
 
Author
Grounds. R.
Publisher
Christopher Helm
Year
1989
ISBN
0-7470-1219-9
Description
Cultivation details of many of the grasses and bamboos. Well illustrated.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.5 - 8.3[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The early maturing forms require a growing period of 60 - 95 days to ripen the seed, medium duration types need about 80 days, whilst long duration types need 100 - 120 days or longer[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Pearl millet is harvested by hand, either by picking the panicles or by harvesting whole plants. In cultivars where tillers ripen unevenly, several pickings are required. Cultivars with long panicles are favoured for ease of harvest, bundling and transport[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
In Africa, the expected yields of grain are 0.25 - 1.0 tonne per hectare, though normally the optimum yields are from 3 - 5 tonnes and experimental yields of up to 8 tonnes have been reported[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. When seedlings are established with fresh water and fertilizer applied, multiple irrigations with seawater can give yields of 1 - 1.6 tonnes of grain[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
There are often not many seeds on the inflorescence[
160
Title
Wonder Crops. 1987.
Publication
 
Author
Natural Food Institute,
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Fascinating reading, this is an annual publication. Some reports do seem somewhat exaggerated though.
].

Edible Uses

Seed - raw or cooked. It can be used like rice in sweet or savoury dishes, or can be ground into a powder and used as a flour for making breads such as chapatti, porridge etc[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The grain is often fermented to make various foods[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The seed can also be popped in the same manner as popcorn[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. The sweet tasting grains are eaten raw by children[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. Very nutritious[
171
Title
Economic Botany.
Publication
 
Author
Hill. A. F.
Publisher
The Maple Press
Year
1952
ISBN
-
Description
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some detail about the plants it does cover.
], it contains about 70% carbohydrate and 10% protein[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

The immature flowering stems are roasted and eaten like sweetcorn[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

Medicinal

The plant is appetiser and tonic[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
]. It is useful in the treatment of heart diseases[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].

The fruits have been rubbed on open facial pimples in order to get rid of them[
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].

The grain has been applied to treat chest disorders, leprosy, blennorrhoea and poisonings, and the ground grain as an anthelmintic for children[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

A root decoction is drunk to treat jaundice[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The vapour of inflorescence extracts is inhaled for respiratory diseases in children[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Pearl millet is often intercropped with one to several crops, including cowpea, sorghum and groundnut[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Following the discovery that pearl millet can suppress root-lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus penetrans) it is increasingly being used as an alternative to soil fumigation in tobacco and potato cropping in Canada[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Other Uses

The straw is used for thatching, fencing and fuel[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Split stems are used for basketry[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

A dye for leather and wood is obtained from red- and purple-flowered types[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Propagation

Seed - sow in situ. The optimum temperature for germination is 33 - 35°c; no germination occurs below 12°c[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
If dry and protected from insects, seed can be stored adequately at room temperature for several years[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

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