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Jepson Interchange (more information)
©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California

  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.



James P. Smith, Jr., except as specified

Annual to bamboo-like; roots generally fibrous
Stem generally round, hollow; nodes swollen, solid
Leaves alternate, 2-ranked, generally linear; sheath generally open; ligule membranous or hairy, at blade base
Inflorescence various (of generally many spikelets)
Spikelet: glumes generally 2; florets (lemma, palea, flower) 1–many; lemma generally membranous, sometimes glume-like; palea generally ± transparent, ± enclosed by lemma
Flower generally bisexual, minute; stamens generally 3; stigmas generally 2, generally plumose
Fruit: achene-like grain
Genera in family: 650–900 genera; ± 10,000 species: worldwide; greatest economic importance of any family (wheat, rice, maize, millet, sorghum, sugar cane, forage crops, ornamental, weeds; thatching, weaving, building materials)
Reference: [Hitchcock 1951 Manual grasses US, USDA Misc Publ 200; Clayton & Renvoise 1986 Kew Bull Add Series 13]
See Glossary p. 26 for illustrations of general family characteristics. Generally wind-pollinated.



Robert Webster

Annual, perennial herb
Stems generally erect; internode solid to hollow inside
Leaves basal and cauline; sheath glabrous or hairy; ligule short-hairy or membranous, ciliate, hairs generally > membrane
Inflorescence panicle-like, generally open; 1° branches spreading to ascending; 2° branches spreading to appressed; spikelets many, 1–2 per node, generally stalked, on one side of axis or not, stalk tip expanded, one side concave
Spikelet falling as 1 unit, ± compressed, generally green to purplish; glumes generally unequal, lower generally < upper, free, clasping, upper glume ± = spikelet, membranous, ± thin; florets 2, lower sterile or staminate, lemma texture like glumes, upper floret fertile, lemma leathery to hard, firm, generally shiny, smooth to rough, margin inrolled, tip blunt, palea enclosed by lemma margin
Species in genus: ± 450 species: tropical to warm temp, worldwide
Etymology: (Latin: ancient name for millet)
Reference: [Spellenberg 1975 Brittonia 27:87–95]
Some species cultivated for food.


P. miliaceum L.


Stem 2–10 dm
Leaf: sheath 3.5–8 cm, short-hairy; ligule 1–3 mm, membranous; blade 10–20 cm, 6–25 mm wide, upper surface velvety to roughly hairy
Inflorescence 10–40 cm; 1° branches 4–18 cm, axis glabrous; spikelet 1 per node, stalk 2–10 mm
Spikelet 4.5–5.5 mm, ± 2–2.5 mm wide, elliptic, green to brown; lower glume 2.5–4.5 mm, 3–5-veined; lower floret sterile, lemma 11-veined, acuminate to acute, palea vestigial; upper floret 0.8 X lower floret length
Chromosomes: 2n=36
Ecology: Disturbed places, fields, roadsides
Elevation: < 1000 m.
Bioregional distribution: Great Central Valley, San Francisco Bay Area, Southwestern California, Sonoran Desert
Distribution outside California: to eastern US; native to Eurasia
Flowering time: Aug–Oct
Cult for seed, food.

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