Millet Panic

Panicum miliaceum L.

Order: Poales

Family: Poaceae


Broom Millet

Other Names

Broomcorn Millet
Broom Millet is also used for Sorghum bicolor.
Brown Millet
Chinese Millet
French Millet
Hog Millet
Indian Millet
Little Millet
Millet Panic is the preferred common name.
Panic Millet
Proso Millet
Red (French) Millet
White (French) Millet


A robust, tufted, usually hairy, leafy, annual, fast growing grass with thick, round or grooved stems and a drooping seed head that is usually partially enclosed in the top sheaths.





Blade - Flat, thin, parallel sided, 100-300 mm long x 6-25 mm wide with a finely tapering tip. Edges often wavy and rough to touch. Hairless or with wart based hairs that taper to a slender point on both surfaces. Seedling leaf blades often densely hairy. Midrib on the back of the leaf blade often has a row of hairs protruding at right angles to the blade.
Ligule - Narrow, hairy, membranous rim, 1-4 mm long. Or a fringe of dense hairs.
Auricles -
Sheath - Somewhat loose, broad, circular. Hairy with spreading, wart based hairs.


Tufted. Slender, circular in cross section or grooved, 20-1800 mm tall x up to 8 mm diameter. Single or sparsely branched, occasionally bent at the lower nodes. 4-5 nodes. Sometimes hairy towards the top. Nodes variably hairy. May branch at the base.

Flower head:

Dense or open panicle, narrowly oblong, to 300 mm long and often partially enclosed in the upper leaf sheath, usually drooping. Many thread like branches divided 4-5 times, angular and rough to touch. Hairless.


Spikelets - Single on short stalks (pedicels) 2-6 mm long, often in sets of 2-3 in loose racemes. Green or green-brown, 4.5-6 mm long, egg shaped, plump with a tapering tip. Hairless but pedicel is rarely hairy.
Florets - Lower one empty. Upper one bisexual, fertile and falls readily from the outer husks.
Glumes -Lower one thinly membranous, broadly egg shaped, 3.5 mm long, 5-7 (11) obvious ribs. Upper one thinly membranous, egg shaped, 4.5 mm long, rounded on the back, 9-13 obvious ribs, finely tipped or beaked.
Palea - of lower floret, egg shaped, up to 1.5 mm long, translucent, flat tipped or notched, enclosed by glume. Palea of upper floret, hard, thin, brittle, smooth and shiny.
Lemma - Lower one thinly membranous with obvious ribs similar to upper glume, 4.5 mm long. Upper one, 3 mm long x 2 mm wide, white, yellow, red, brown or black, hard, thin, brittle, smooth, shiny.
Stamens -
Anthers -



Glossy, small,
Wild varieties have olive brown to black seeds and cultivated varieties usually have yellow to light brown seed.


Fibrous and short.
Shiny dark brown to black seed coat often persists on the root system.

Key Characters:

Ligule a short rim, ciliate
Inflorescence more than 100 mm long, of 2-many spike like racemes.
Spikelets 4.5-6 mm long, pedicellate, 2 flowered, without an involucre, falls entire at maturity, in loose racemes.
Pedicels 1-5 (8) mm long.
Disarticulates below the glumes.
Florets bisexual, lower one empty.
Lacks appendage below palea.
Lemma and palea of lower floret obscurely ribbed.
Glumes shorter than or equal in length to the spikelet, similar in texture to lemma, glabrous or scabrous.
Upper glume apiculate, not 2 lobed, no awns.
Lower lemma not 2 lobed, no awns.
From J.M. Black and T.D. Macfarlane.


Life cycle:

Annual grass. Grown as a winter, spring or early summer crop for grain.


Killed by frost.
Not as drought tolerant as Sorghum.
It doesn't recover well from defoliation.
Not very competitive with weeds.
Requires full sunlight and rarely invades bushland.


By seed or transplanting.

Flowering times:

January, April and August in WA.
February to April in SA.
Summer to early autumn in Western NSW.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Germination of buried Proso Millet seed decreased approximately 90% after 54 months (Harvey & McNevin, 1990).
Typically the seed bank falls by about 70% per year.
Little seed dormancy but often has a staggered germination.
Sets large amounts of seed.

Vegetative Propagules:


Hybrids and cultivars:

White French Millet has creamy yellow glistening grain.
Red French Millet has red glistening grain.
Yellow Manitoba, Turghai and Early Fortune are US varieties
Deerbrook has grey-green stripes on the hulls.
Crown has greenish-grey hulls and is grown in Canada.

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Often appears where birdseed has been discarded.
Often spread by intentional planting.
Rarely invades shaded situations.

Origin and History:

Europe. China. Central Asia.



Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.



Prefers high temperatures.


Prefer warm moist soils of moderate to high fertility.
Tolerates a wide range of soil types.

Plant Associations:



Grain used for human consumption, bird seed and pig and poultry feed.
Fodder but generally relatively poor quality. Its hairy nature makes it less palatable than other millets. Often grown with vetches as a fodder crop.
Can be lightly grazed 2-3 times during the vegetative phase.
Used as a cover crop for Lucerne.


Weed of fallows, gardens, rotation crops, roadsides, railways and disturbed areas.
Wild Proso Millet tends to be quite competitive whereas the cultivated varieties are much less competitive.


Suspected of causing photosensitization in sheep, especially lambs grazing lush growth during hot weather.
May cause jaundice.
They cause less toxicity problems than sorghum.



Management and Control:

Grazing normally provides reasonable control.
A number of grass selective herbicides provide good control.
Tillage after the seed has germinated but before it emerges provides good control but late germinations often occur.


Eradication strategies:

Preventing seed set will reduce the seed bank by about 70% per year.
Graze heavily.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

No biological control.

Related plants:

Black seeded Panic (Panicum bisulcatum)
Blue Panic (Panicum antidotale)
Bulbous Panic (Panicum bulbosum)
Coolah grass (Panicum coloratum)
Dwarf Panic (Panicum pygmaeum)
Gilgai grass (Panicum subxerophilum)
Green Panic (Panicum maximum var. trichoglume)
Guinea grass (Panicum maximum)
Hairy Panic (Panicum effusum)
Millet Panic (Panicum miliaceum)
Native Millet (Panicum decompositum)
Native Panic (Panicum buncei)
Pepper grass (Panicum laevinode or Panicum whitei)
Rigid Panic (Panicum prolutum)
Sweet Grass (Panicum laevifolium var. contractum)
Swamp Panic (Panicum paludosum)
Torpedo grass (Panicum repens)
Two coloured Panic (Panicum simile)
White Water Panic (Panicum obseptum)
Witchgrass (Panicum capillare)
Yabila grass (Panicum queenslandicum)
Panicum luzonense
Panicum novemnerve

Plants of similar appearance:


Black, J.M. (1978). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P223.

Burbidge, N.T. and Gray, M. (1970). Flora of the Australian Capital Territory. (Australian National University Press, Canberra). P66.

Ciba Geigy (1980) Grass Weeds 1. CIBA GEIGY Ltd, Basle, Switzerland. P84. Diagrams.

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. (1992). Plants of Western New South Wales. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P121.

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney). P334.

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P60.

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #926.17.

Marchant et al (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P972.

Reid, R.L. (1990) The Manual of Australian Agriculture. (Butterworths, Sydney). P89-90.


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