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Useful Tropical Plants

Digitaria exilis

(Kippist) Stapf

Poaceae

+ Synonyms

Panicum exile (Kippist) A.Chev.

Paspalum exile Kippist

Paspalum longiflorum Chev.

Common Name: Fonio Millet

Digitaria exilis
Growing plant
Photograph by: Harrison, M., USDA, ARS
Public Domain
Digitaria exilis Digitaria exilis Digitaria exilis Digitaria exilis Digitaria exilis Digitaria exilis Digitaria exilis

General Information

Fonio millet is an annual grass growing from 30 - 80cm tall.
The plant has been cultivated for its edible seed for thousands of years in western tropical Africa[
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.
]. A staple food in various parts of West Africa, where it is also known as ‘acha’ or ‘fundi’, it is also considered to be a prestige food (‘chief’s food’) and a gourmet item[
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.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References


Range

Cultivated in tropical west Africa, it is not known as a wild plant.

Habitat

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitAnnual
Height0.50 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

Fonio is grown at sea level in Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone, but more often it is cultivated at elevations of 600 - 1,500 metres[
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 average temperature in the growing season ranges from 20°c at higher altitudes to 25 - 30°c near sea level[
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.
]. Fonio is grown in areas with an average annual rainfall of 150 - 3,000 mm, but its cultivation is concentrated in regions with an average annual rainfall of 900 - 1,000 mm[
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 plant is not as drought resistant as pearl millet, but fast-maturing landraces are suited to areas with short and unreliable rains. In areas with very low rainfall it is grown in valleys benefiting from run-off water[
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.
].
Fonio can be grown on poor, shallow, sandy or rocky soils unsuitable for other cereals, but does not prosper in saline or heavy soils. On the Fouta Djallon Plateau of Guinea, it grows on acidic soils with very high aluminium contents[
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.
].
Flowering usually occurs 6 - 8 weeks after the seedlings emerge[
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 time from sowing to maturity is normally 2 - 5 months, though certain landraces mature so quickly that they produce grain just 6 - 8 weeks after planting, long before any other cereals, and so they provide food early in the growing season[
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.
].
At maturity the stems bend down due to the weight of the grains[
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.
].
Grain yields of fonio are normally 600 - 900 kg/ha, but yields of over 1000 kg/ha have been recorded. In marginal areas yields may be as low as 150 - 200 kg/ha[
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.
].
Fonio is usually cut with a knife or sickle, tied into sheaves, dried and stored under cover. Mechanization is difficult because of lodging[
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.
]. When plants are dry, the grain shatters easily, and therefore it is better to harvest before the dry season has fully established and the relative air humidity has considerably declined. Harvesting is often staggered, to suit the immediate needs of the farmer[
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 plant may have derived in cultivation from Digitaria longiflora[
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.
].

Edible Uses

Seed - cooked. Used as a staple cereal by some native peoples in western Africa, it is often ground into a fine semolina-like flour and made into breads, couscous etc, or eaten as a gruel[
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 flour is made into thick, unfermented porridges (‘tuwo acha’), whilst the fermented grains are used for making thin porridges (‘kunu acha’)[
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 whole seed can also be popped like 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 tiny seed is highly nutritious and palatable, it is considered to be a delicacy by the local people who grow it[
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

Fonio grain is considered to have medicinal properties; it is recommended for lactating women and diabetic people[
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 chopped straw is mixed with clay to build the walls of houses[
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 straw is also used as a fuel for cooking or to produce ash for potash[
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 - best sown in situ, only just covering the seed. Fonio normally germinates 2 - 4 days after sowing and grows rapidly[
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.
].
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2018-10-22. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Digitaria+exilis>

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