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Pennisetum glaucum (pearl millet)

Pearl millet is a hardy crop able to survive harsh arid conditions and poor acidic soils where wheat rice, maize, sorghum and barley are unable to grow.
Field of pearl millet

Field of pearl millet

Species information

Scientific name: 

Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.

Common name: 

pearl millet, bulrush millet, cattail millet (English); mil, mil à chandelle, mil pénicillaire, petit mil (French); milho zaburro, milho preto, milheto, massango liso (Portuguese); mwele (Swahili).

Conservation status: 

Widespread in cultivation.


Well drained loamy to sandy soils.

Key Uses: 

Food and drink, fodder crop, dye, construction materials, medicinal, silage, haymaking, grazing.


Genus: Pennisetum

About this species

Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) is well-adapted to poor, droughty and infertile soils and is therefore a vital subsistence crop in countries surrounding the Sahara Desert and in western Africa where soils are tough and rainfall is low. As climate change continues to affect weather and rainfall patterns, pearl millet is likely to become increasingly important as a crop for the future. In addition to being an important food source, pearl millet has a number of medicinal applications.


Pennisetum spicatum (L.) Körn., Pennisetum americanum (L.) Leeke, Pennisetum typhoides (Burm.f.) Stapf & C.E.Hubb.


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