Leptoloma miliacea (L.) Smyth
Milium esculentum Moench.
Milium paniceum Mill.
Panicum asperrimum Fischer ex Jacq.
Panicum densepilosum Steud.
Panicum milium Pers.
Common Name: Broom Millet
Cultivated fruiting plants in Korea
Photograph by: Dalgial
Broom millet is a shallow-rooted, erect, clump-forming annual grass growing 30 - 100cm tall[
]. The plant is usually free-tillering with a slender inflorescence up to 45cm long[
Broom millet is a grain of ancient cultivation, probably domesticated first in central and eastern Asia, where it has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. Its cultivation spread from there through Europe, where it could produce a crop in the colder northerly latitudes, and also to Africa and the Americas. It has been a staple food in many areas, but its cultivation has declined in more recent times, especially after the large-scale introduction of potato and maize. Nowadays its cultivation for human consumption takes place mainly in eastern and central Asia, and to a lesser extent in eastern Europe (Russia, Danube region) and from western Asia to Pakistan and India (Bihar, Andhra Pradesh)[
Probably eastern Asia, but it has been in cultivation so long that the original range is obscure.
Waste places in Britain[
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Although broom millet is primarily a crop of temperate regions, it has a wide adaptability and can be grown in climates which are too hot and dry, and on soils which are too shallow and poor for successful cultivation of other cereals[
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 32°c, but can tolerate 15 - 45°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 500 - 750mm, but tolerates 200 - 1,000mm[
]. The plant is best adapted to areas of low or medium relative air humidity[
Requires a moderately fertile well-drained soil in full sun[
]. Most soils are suitable, except coarse sand[
]. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[
]. Tolerates heat and also drought when it is established[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 6.5, tolerating 5.2 - 8.2[
The plant has become widely naturalized and is often a weed in areas outside its native range[
The plant is normally harvested 55 - 90 days from sowing the seed, but it may require up to 280 days depending on growing conditions[
The plant is ready for harvest when the seed has a moisture content of 14 - 15%. Delayed harvesting should be avoided, as the seed shatters easily if allowed to become too mature. Premature harvesting, on the other hand, results in reduced yield and quality. Plants are usually harvested by pulling them up by the roots, and they are threshed immediately to avoid grain loss[
In India, seed yields of 450 - 650 kg/ha can be obtained from unirrigated crops, generally this can rise to 1 - 2 tonnes/ha when the crop is irrigated[
The plant photosynthesize by a more efficient method than most plants. Called the 'C4 carbon-fixation pathway', this process is particularly efficient at high temperatures, in bright sunlight and under dry conditions[
Seed - cooked as a whole grain in ways similar to rice, or ground into a powder and used as a flour for making breads, pasta and fermented foods such as 'tempeh'[
]. Highly nutritious, it has a nutty flavour and is more easily digested than many cereals because its high alkaline content counteracts acids[
]. It is also free of gluten and so, although bread made from it does not rise, the cereal is suitable for people with coeliac disease or other gluten intolerances[
]. The seed can also be sprouted and added to salads, soups etc[
]. The hull is hard and indigestible and therefore must be removed before human consumption[
]. Hulling has no adverse affect on nutritional value[
]. The seed contains about 10% protein, 4% fat[
The seed is cooling and demulcent[
]. The cooked seed is applied as a poultice for abscesses, sores etc whilst juice from chewed seeds is applied to children's sores[
The seed is also incinerated and mixed with oil then used as a poultice that is said to heal sores without leaving a scar[
A decoction of the root is used as an antidote to poisoning by Momordica spp, it is also used to treat haematuria in women and as a bath for skin eruptions[
A starch from the seed is a substitute for corn starch (Zea mays). It is used for sizing textiles[
The leaves are a source of fibre used in paper making[
Seed - sow in situ. Germination usually takes 4 - 8 days[
]. The seed germinates well at temperatures of 10 - 45°c, with the highest rate at temperatures between 35 - 40°c[
The seed stores for up to 5 years[
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