Foxtail millet

Foxtail millet ( Setaria italica )

The foxtail millet ( Setaria italica ), also called Italian foxtail, is a kind of millet, which is primarily grown in Asia.

  • 6.1 Notes and references
  • 6.2 External links


Vegetative characteristics

The foxtail millet is an annual plant ( Therophyt ) and reaches heights of growth from 60 to 120 (rarely to 150) centimeters. The upright stems have a diameter of 4-8 (rarely to 10 ) mm and are hairy below the inflorescence. The six to twelve nodes of the culm are bald or it is the lowest hairy. The stalk is leafy to the top.

The leaf sheaths are densely hairy on the edge, often on the back. The ligule contributes about 2 millimeters long eyelashes. The leaf blade is 10 to 50 inches long and one to three inches wide. It is rough on both sides, the top is covered with scattered short hairs. The leaf margin carries sting hair.

Generative features

The ährenrispige inflorescence is up to 25 (4 to 30) inches long and 2-3 inches wide without bristles usually 10. The inflorescence is more or less lobed, maturity overhanging. When upward swipe he is rough due to bristle teeth. The inflorescence axis is densely covered with downy hairs to 2 mm long. One to three bristles below the spikelet are generally 8 to 10 ( 2 to 16 ) millimeters in length. Morphologically, the bristles are deaf panicle. The spikelet is 3 to 3.5 millimeters long. When ripe falls from only the top blossom, the glumes and the lower sterile flower remains on the axis. The lower glume is half as long as the spikelet. The upper lemma is as long as the spikelet, it is thickened. The dust bags are 0.8 to 1.2 millimeters long. The flowering period extends from June to October. It can be found both self - as -pollination.

The fruits are 1.5 to 2 mm long and broadly elliptical in outline. They remain enclosed by the lemmas to maturity. Depending on the variety, the color can be yellow, orange, red or black. The spread of diasporas done epizoochor (velcro spread) or hemerochor ( by humans ).

Ingredients and chromosome number

The grains consist of 10 % water, 11.3 % protein, 4.3% fat, 62% carbohydrate, 7 % crude fiber and 3 % ash.

The chromosome number is 2n = 18


The foxtail millet is known only in cultivation. Their distribution coincides with the growing areas. In Central Europe it is widespread on the colline level stage, but is rare and unstable before, mostly just wild. In gardens or small fields, it is grown as bird food. It grows on rich clay and sandy soils. It is found mainly on garbage dumps, on railway areas and ports.


The foxtail millet is one of the millets with greater importance. The main growing areas are located in ( North ) China, Central Asia, Afghanistan and India. It is also grown in Southeast Asia, East Europe, South Africa and Australia. In Europe and America it has a certain importance as a forage grass.

The foxtail millet is not drought tolerant. The early varieties need 400 to 500 mm rainfall, the late up to 700 mm. The demands on the soil are low.

The income can be in favorable locations to five tons per hectare, normal yields are below one tonne per hectare. Certain varieties are due to the higher content of gluten for baking bread.

Economically significant infestation with the rust fungus Uromyces is setariae - italicae.


The foxtail millet is derived as a crop of the Green foxtail ( Setaria viridis). Setaria italica are synonyms for Panicum italicum L. and Panicum glomeratum Moench.

From the foxtail millet there are a number of varieties, which are grouped into two families, which are classified as subspecies or Konvarietäten:

  • Large foxtail millet ( Setaria italica (L. ) P. Beauv. Subsp. Italica )
  • Little millet or Mohar ( Setaria italica (L. ) P. Beauv. Subsp. Moharia ( Alef. ) H. Scholz ) has short bristles. it is planted as bird food.


The ordinary form of foxtail millet is the green foxtail. The place of domestication is uncertain, but could have been in Afghanistan. Only here there are transitional forms between the two species that do not intersect otherwise.

In northern China, the millet was grown together with the proso millet ( Panicum miliaceum ) from about 2500 BC, at that time the only cereals. Even after the introduction of wheat and barley, the two millet were the staple food of the people.

In Europe, the foxtail millet only from objects found in Neolithic settlements on Lake Constance is known. In the Iron Age, the millet was the most important Hirsenart in Portugal, Spain, Italy and the Rhineland. The Romans called the foxtail millet as " panicum " and prepared from it with milk porridge. Pliny the Elder mentions as main growing areas of Gaul and the Po Valley.

In Central Europe the foxtail millet played only a minor role compared to the millet. End of the 19th century, it was only sporadically in Southern Germany, Upper and Lower Austria and grown in Hungary.

Sources and further information

  • Siegmund Seybold (ed.): Schmeil Fitschen - interactive ( CD -Rom ), Quelle & Meyer, Wiebelsheim 2001/2002, ISBN 3-494-01327-6 (main source)
  • Udelgard Körber Grohne: crops in Germany, from prehistory to today. Theiss, Stuttgart 1995, pp. 330-339 (reprint ISBN 3-933203-40-6 ) (story)
  • Walter Erhardt et al: The big walleye. Encyclopedia of plant names. Volume 2 Eugen Ulmer Verlag, Stuttgart, 2008. ISBN 978-3-8001-5406-7