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Common Name: Foxtail Millet
Cultivated plant in Oslo botanical garden, Oslo, Norway
Photograph by: Daderot
Setaria italica is an annual plant that can grow up to 0.45 metres tall.
It has edible and medicinal uses.
Asia? The origin is obscure, the plant is a casual in Britain[
Not known in a truly wild situation.
Succeeds in any well-drained soil in full sun[
]. Established plants are very drought resistant[
Often cultivated for its edible seed in tropical and warm temperate areas, there are many named varieties[
]. It was probably derived in cultivation from S. viridis[
]. Because the plant flowers in late summer there are problems with harvesting a good crop of seed in Britain. Apart from that, the plant grows well here.
Seed - cooked[
]. It can be eaten as a sweet or savoury food in all the ways that rice is used, or ground into a flour and made into porridge, cakes, puddings etc[
]. The seed can also be sprouted before it is used, when it will become somewhat sweeter[
]. A nutritional analysis is available[
The germinated seed of yellow-seeded cultivars is astringent, digestive, emollient and stomachic[
]. It is used in the treatment of dyspepsia, poor digestion and food stagnancy in the abdomen[
]. White seeds are refrigerant and used in the treatment of cholera and fever[
]. Green seeds are diuretic and strengthening to virility[
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.