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Setaria italica - (L.)P.Beauv.

Common Name Foxtail Millet
Family Poaceae or Gramineae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation.
Range Asia? The plant was derived through cultivation and its origin is obscure.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Setaria italica Foxtail Millet

Setaria italica Foxtail Millet


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Setaria italica is a ANNUAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.1 m (0ft 4in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 6. It is in flower from August to October, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Panicum italicum. Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauv. var. metzgeri.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses:

Seed - cooked[2 , 34 , 46 ]. It can be eaten as sweet or savoury food in all the ways that rice is used, or ground into a flour and made into porridge, cakes, puddings etc[105 , 183 , 418 ]. It is considered a nutritious food and is often recommended for the elderly and for pregnant women[299 ]. The seed can also be sprouted before it is used, when it will become somewhat sweeter[K ]. Most cultivars are non-glutinous and are thus suitable for the diet of people with coeliac disease[299 ]. A nutritional analysis is available[218 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Seed (Dry weight)
  • 384 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 10.7g; Fat: 3.3g; Carbohydrate: 84.2g; Fibre: 1.4g; Ash: 1.8g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 37mg; Phosphorus: 275mg; Iron: 6.2mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 8mg; Potassium: 281mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.48mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.14mg; Niacin: 2.48mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Appetizer  Astringent  Cholera  Digestive  Diuretic  Emollient  Refrigerant  Stomachic

The germinated seed of yellow-seeded cultivars is astringent, digestive, emollient and stomachic[176, 178, 218]. It is used in the treatment of dyspepsia, poor digestion and food stagnancy in the abdomen[176]. White seeds are refrigerant and used in the treatment of cholera and fever[218]. Green seeds are diuretic and strengthening to virility[218].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Bedding  Soil stabilization  Thatching

Agroforestry Uses: The plant can be sown in contour strips for erosion control[299 ]. Other Uses: The straw is used for thatching and bedding in places such as India[299 ]. The bran contains up to 9% oil and can be used for oil extraction[299 ].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the temperate and subtropical zones, amenable to cultivation in the tropics where it is found at elevations up to 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 16 - 26°c, but can tolerate 5 - 35°c[418 ]. It is intolerant of frost[375 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 500 - 700mm, but tolerates 300 - 4,000mm[418 ]. Grows best in a sunny position[162 , 299 ]. Succeeds in any well-drained soil from light sands to heavy clays, preferring fertile conditions[162 , 299 ]. Established plants have a deep root system and are very drought resistant[57 , 61 , 375 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 6.8, tolerating 5.5 - 8.3[418 ]. Plants can mature a crop in 60 - 120 days from sowing the seed, depending on conditions and variety[418 ]. Seed yields of 800 - 900 kilos per hectare can be attained from rain-fed crops; this has been increased to 1,800 kilos in China with selected forms and a rainfall of fewer 900mms[299 , 375 ]. Experimental yields of 11 tonnes per hectare have been obtained with irrigation[299 ]. There are many named varieties[46 , 183 ]. Because the plant flowers in late summer there are problems with harvesting a good crop of seed in Britain and similar temperate climates. Apart from that, the plant grows well here.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow early spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually quick and good. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on fast. Plant them out in late spring, after the last expected frosts. Whilst this is fine for small quantities, it would be an extremely labour intensive method if larger amounts were to be grown. The seed can be sown in situ in the middle of spring though it is then later in coming into flower and may not ripen its seed in a cool summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Awa, Bengal grass, Butul, Chenna, Chinaka, Chiurr, Erba, Fatun, Hetui, Iskoi, Italian millet, Japanese millet, Jo, Kala kangni, Kang, Kanghuni, Kangni, Kangu, Kanguni, Kangunika, Kaon, Karang, Karibiragu, Kaun, Khar, Khauni, Koni, Kora, Korra, Korralu, Ksongu, Kusht, Liang, Maisha, Mijo de Italia, Milho painco, Mukobi, Navane, Pingi, Pitatandula, Priangu, Priyangu, Rala, Rumput ekur kucing, Salau, Sekoi, Sekua, Sekui, Shak, Shali, Tanahal, Tangun, Tena, Tenai, Thanahal, Thene, Thina, U'rao-shoho, chinese millet, fox tail millet|thana hal, foxtail millet, fructus setariae germinatus, german millet guya hungarian millet italian millet kangni millet sprout, setariae fructus germinatus.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Afghanistan, Africa, Andamans, Armenia, Asia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Azores, Bangladesh, Belgium, Britain, Burma, Cambodia, Canada, Central Asia, China, Cyprus, East Africa, East Timor, Egypt, Europe, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guiana, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Kyrgystan, Laos, Malawi, Malaysia, Manchuria, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, North Africa, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, PNG, Russia, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, South Africa, Southern Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tasmania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, USA, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
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Setaria pumilaYellow Bristle Grass, Yellow foxtail, Cattail grassAnnual0.8 5-9  LMHNM200
Setaria viridisGreen Bristle GrassAnnual0.5 5-9  LMHNDM220
Setaria viridis pycnocoma Annual0.8 5-9  LMHNM20 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

   Mon Aug 18 2008

Thank you, thank you - at last the answers I needed! Well done. No reply necessary.

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Subject : Setaria italica  
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