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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


(Echinochloa crusgalli (L.) Beauv.)

Wild millet

GRASS FAMILY (Gramineae or Poaceae)


FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: An annual herb with a stout stem usually 10 to 100 cm. tall. The leaves are lanceolate and 0.5-1.5(2.3) cm. wide. The inflorescence is a panicle 0.3-2.5 dm. long, and green to purple-tinged. The inflorescence has a bristly appearance because of numerous spines covering the spikelet, as well as an awn (see ink drawing). The length of the awn is quite variable and may be pronounced (as shown by the ink drawing) or nearly lacking. In flower from June to November.

Wild millet
Figure 37
Illustration is from Hitchcock (1950).

ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Wild millet is found in disturbed areas such as cultivated land and vacant urban parcels. It also occurs in fresh (wet) meadows and along streambanks. Echinochloa crusgalli is a native of Europe and has become naturalized here. Two native species of Echinochloa also occur in Minnesota and Wisconsin: E. muricata and E. walteri. Note that E. muricata appears in some floras under the incorrect name of E. pungens (Voss 1972). Some authorities have lumped E. muricata and E. pungens under E. crusgalli. See the discussion in Swink and Wilhelm (1994).

The nutlets are an important food for waterfowl and mourning doves, as well as other birds.

SOURCE: Fernald (1970); Gleason and Cronquist (1991); Martin et al. (1951); and Voss (1972).

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