Ontario Weeds: Proso millet

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Flowers and Fruit
  7. Habitat
  8. Similar Species
  9. Related Links

Name: Proso millet, Panicum miliaceum L.,

Other Names: panic millet, Proso, Wild proso millet, Millet, Broom-corn millet

Family: Grass Family (Gramineae)

General Description: Annual, reproducing only by seed.

Photos and Pictures

Proso millet

Proso millet

Proso millet (A - plant with drooping panicle; B - hairy leaves and leaf sheaths; C - variation in colour of seeds on different plants).

Proso millet (A - plant with drooping panicle; B - hairy leaves and leaf sheaths; C - variation in colour of seeds on different plants).

Proso millet. A. Young plant in 6-leaf stage showing "mother seed" still atached to primary root. B. Lower portion of flowering plant shwoing one inflorescence emerging from leaf sheth. C. Leaf-base. D. Dense, arching inflorescence. E. Loose, open inflorescence.
Proso millet.
A. Young plant in 6-leaf stage showing "mother seed" still atached to primary root. B. Lower portion of flowering plant shwoing one inflorescence emerging from leaf sheth. C. Leaf-base. D. Dense, arching inflorescence. E. Loose, open inflorescence.

Stem and leaf-base characteristics of a typical grass.

Stem and leaf-base characteristics of a typical grass.

Stems & Roots: Stems stout, up to 1m (40in.) or more high, smooth or somewhat hairy for several cm below each node, especially where not enclosed within the leaf sheath; leaf sheaths densely hairy, the hairs somewhat harsh and standing more or less perpendicular to the surface; leaf sheaths split, their margins membranous, overlapping just above each node but becoming separate upwards nearer the leaf blade; leaves smooth to sparsely hairy, elongate, to 30cm (12in.) or longer, and 5-25mm (1/5-1in.) wide, widest just above the rounded base and tapering towards the tip; ligule a band of hairs 2-5mm (1/12-1/5in.) long, the bases of the hairs united and more or less membranous; no auricles;

Flowers & Fruit: Panicle either dense and arching or nodding to one side (usually associated with cream-, orange- or reddish-seeded forms) or erect and loose or open (usually associated with black-seeded forms), 8-30cm (3-1/5-12in.) long; spikelets ovoid, 4-5.5mm (1/6-¼in.) long and ½ to 2/3 as wide; seeds 3-3.5mm (1/9-1/7in.) long by about 1.6-2.0mm (1/15-1/12in.) wide, hard and usually shiny, varying in colour from white through shades of yellow, orange and brown to black, the darker coloured seeds with 5 parallel beige veins. Flowers from July to September.

Habitat: Proso millet was introduced from Europe. Some forms are cultivated for bird seed and some of these along with other wild forms are major weeds of grain fields in parts of southern Ontario.

Similar Species: It is distinguished from the very similar Witch grass by its much larger seeds that may vary in colour from white through cream, orange, reddish or brownish-green to black, and by the arching or nodding panicle in some forms (the erect, open-panicled forms usually being larger, coarser and having fewer seeds than Witch grass); and it is distinguished from Fall panicum by its hairy leaf sheaths and its larger spikelets. Seedlings of Proso millet can be distinguished from those of Witch grass only by the size, shape and colour of the mother seed clinging to the primary root.

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

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For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 01 June 2000
Last Reviewed: 01 November 2003