Cynodon coracanus Raspall
Cynosurus coracanus L.
Eleusine cerealis Salisb.
Eleusine dagussa Schimp.
Eleusine indica coracana (L.) Lye
Eleusine luco Welw.
Eleusine ovalis Ehrenb. ex Sweet
Eleusine pilosa Gilli
Eleusine reniformis Divak.
Eleusine rigida Spreng.
Eleusine sphaerosperma Stokes
Eleusine stricta Roxb.
Eleusine tocussa Fresen.
Common Name: Finger Millet
Photograph by: L. Shyamal
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
Growing plants, just coming into flower
Photograph by: James Steakley
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Young plants, just coming into flower at the University of Helsinki Botanical Garden at Kaisaniemi
Photograph by: Daderot
Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication
Photograph by: Aathavan jaffna
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Eleusine coracana is a robust, free-tillering, tufted annual grass that can grow up to 170cm tall[
Finger millet was first cultivated as a food crop in east Africa around 3,000 BC. Cultivation has gradually spread from there and the plant is now grown, mainly on a small scale, in warm temperate to tropical countries around the world[
]. The plant also has local medicinal uses and is used as a soil stabilizer. The seed is sod in local markets, but there is little or no international trade[
Originating in Africa, but widely spread through the tropics and subtropics. It probably arose through cultivation from Eleusine indica.
Savannah and upland grassland[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Finger millet cam be grown successfully as a seed crop from the temperate zone to the tropics, succeeding in arid to humid environments and also at higher elevations than most other cereal crops[
]. It can tolerate an annual precipitation in the range of 290 - 4,290mm, though for good yields it requires irrigation if the rainfall is less than 530mm[
]. Heavy rain at flowering reduces seed set[
] The plant succeeds in areas with an annual temperature range of 11.1 - 27.4°c[
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in ordinary garden soil in a sunny position[
]. Tolerates moderately moist conditions[
]. Cultivated on soils ranging from rich loams to poor shallow upland soils. In India, grown on black cotton soils, but thrives on red lateritic loams. Ragi stands salinity better than most cereals[
]. Tolerates a pH in the range of 5.0 to 8.2[
]. Plants can tolerate very alkaline soils with a pH of up to 11[
]. Seedlings are sensitive to drought, but mature plants go dormant during short periods of drought and produce new tillers when conditions become favourable again[
Weeds are a major problem in finger millet, the first two weeks after germination being critical. Several rounds of manual weeding are common, requiring much labour[
Time from planting to flowering is 50 - 120 days; the complete crop cycle is 3 - 6 months[
]. Flowering on individual inflorescences lasts for 8 - 10 days and proceeds from top to bottom on branches[
Finger millet is predominantly self-pollinated, with about 1% out-crossing[
The average finger millet grain yield under local practices of agriculture in tropical Africa is 0.25 - 1.5 tonnes per hectare. Potential seed yield from improved cultivars is about 5 tonnes per hectare[
]. Yield depends on variety and is directly related to duration, height and tillering capacity of type grown. Types with straight spikes give better yields than those with curved spikes[
There are many named varieties[
]. For food purposes the white-coloured grain is preferred. The more bitter, dark-coloured grain is preferred for beer-making[
Plants are seldom troubled by insect pests[
The seed stores well[
Seed - cooked. Used as a millet, the seed can be cooked whole or ground and used as a flour[
]. It is used in cakes, puddings, porridge etc[
]. The flour makes a very fair unleavened bread if it is first soaked overnight in water[
]. It is often used in making fermented foods[
]. Finger millet is a main food grain for many peoples, especially in dry areas of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka[
]. The grain is higher in protein, fat and minerals than rice, corn, or sorghum[
]. When consumed as food it provides a sustaining diet, especially for people doing hard work[
]. The grain may also be malted and a flour of the malted grain used as a nourishing food for infants and invalids[
]. Finger millet is considered an especially wholesome food for diabetics[
]. The seed is about 2mm in diameter[
]. A nutritional analysis is available[
The seed is often used to provide malt for making local beer and other alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages[
]. In malting, finger millet grain has a higher enzyme activity than all other major cereals except barley, making it very suitable for brewing[
The grain possesses excellent storage properties and is said to improve in quality with storage. Seed can be stored without damage for as long as 50 years[
]. They are highly valued as a reserve food in times of famine[
The seed is astringent, tonic and cooling[
]. It is used in the treatment of fevers, biliousness and hepatitis[
The leaf juice has been given to women in childbirth, and the plant is reported to be diaphoretic, diuretic, and vermifuge[
]. The plant is a folk remedy for treating leprosy, liver disease, measles, pleurisy, pneumonia, and small pox[
]. The juice of a mixture of finger millet leaves combined with the leaves of Plumbago zeylanica are taken as an internal remedy for leprosy[
This species is used for soil retention[
]. The plants tiller strongly and root from the lower nodes, they provide excellent protection against soil erosion[
A fibre from the plant is used in papermaking[
The straw is used for thatching and plaiting[
The leaves are sometimes used to make a string[
Seed - sow in situ and only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks.