Echinochloa crus-galli (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Echinochloa crus-galli (L.) P. Beauv.

Protologue: Ess. Agrost.: 53, 161 (1812).
Family: Gramineae
Chromosome number: 2n= 42, 48, 54


Panicum crus-galli L. (1753).

Vernacular names

  • Barnyard millet, chicken-panic grass, cock's foot (En). Crête-de-coq, pattes de poule (Fr)
  • Indonesia: jajagoan (Sundanese), jawan (Javanese)
  • Malaysia: padi burung, rumput kekusa basar
  • Philippines: bayokibok (Tagalog), lagtom (Bikol), marapagay (Ilokano)
  • Burma: myet-ihi
  • Cambodia: smao bek kbol
  • Thailand: ya-plonglaman, ya-khaonok (central)
  • Vietnam: cô' lô[n]g vûc, song chong.

Origin and geographic distribution

Barnyard millet is widespread throughout the tropics, e.g. Africa, India, Burma, Thailand, Indo-China, Malesia and Australia, and extends to the subtropics and some warm temperate regions.


Barnyard millet is used as fodder but it is also regarded as the world's worst weed in paddy rice. However, in times of scarcity the grain is eaten by people.


Barnyard millet is a palatable and succulent feed which produces copious quantities of seed.


A robust annual, tufted grass with erect or geniculate culms, up to 1.5 tall, often rooting and branching near the base. Leaf-sheath 9-13 cm long, glabrous or hairy; ligule absent; leaf-blade linear-acuminate, 5-50 cm × 0.5-2 cm, glabrous. Inflorescence erect or nodding, 6-22 cm long, green- or purple-tinged, composed of 9-12 racemes, 2-4(-10) cm long and sometimes branched; racemes untidily 2-several-rowed, hispidulous on the back, scaberulous on the margins; spikelets crowded, hispid, ovoid-ellipsoid, 3-4 mm long excluding the awns; lower floret barren with lemma acuminate or awned, awn up to 0.5-1(-5) cm long; upper lemma pointed, shiny. Caryopsis ovoid, 2-3 mm long, brownish, dorsally flattened, with longitudinal ridges on the convex surface.

An extremely variable species which frequently has been split into various varieties and forms, sometimes even into different species. This complex still needs thorough investigation.

The species flowers over a wide range of photoperiodic conditions. Flowering is quicker and more abundant under short-day circumstances, but under long-day conditions the vegetative and generative parts are much more robust.


Barnyard millet is adapted to wet places and waterlogged land, and grows very vigorously in hot wet conditions from sea-level to 2500 m altitude. It grows best in rich moist soils with high N content, but it can also thrive on sandy and loamy soils.


Barnyard millet is propagated by seed or rooted tillers. Sometimes the seeds have a dormancy period (in Japan 4-8 months; in the United States 4-48 months). Optimum temperature for germination ranges from 32-37 °C. Seeds germinate under water provided it is not more than 15 cm deep. It needs very moist conditions for establishment by rooted tillers. Permanent flooding is recommended if vigorous stands are to be maintained. As a weed in rice, fertilizer applications favour the growth of E. crus-galli more than they do the rice crop. Rice yields can be severely reduced, especially when more than 20 plants/m2are present.

Hand harvesting is a common practice where the grass grows in swampy places. The upper parts of the stem above water are cut and carried to feed to animals. It can be made into hay but is difficult to dry as it is very succulent. Several cuts are possible if plants are kept submerged in water. In paddy fields where barnyard millet is the main species, yields of 4-11 t/ha of green material are obtained. It is relished by cattle and water buffaloes.

Genetic resources and breeding

No data are available, but observations suggest that there are different strains which may occur in different habitats. It is unlikely that any substantial resource collections are being maintained.


As it grows in wet areas, barnyard millet can supply feed at the times when other dryland grasses are not available. Agronomic studies should be conducted on mixtures of rice and barnyard millet to find out how to optimize the yield of barnyard millet without unduly reducing the yield of rice.


  • Bor, N.L., 1960. The grasses of Burma, Ceylon, India and Pakistan. Pergamon Press, London. p. 310.
  • Gilliland, H.B., Holttum R.E. & Bor, N.L., 1971. Grasses of Malaya. In: Burkill, H.M. (Editor): Flora of Malaya. Vol. 3. Government Printing Office, Singapore. pp. 168-169.
  • Holm, L.G., Plucknett, D.L., Pancho, J.V. & Herberger, J.P., 1977. The world's worst weeds: distribution and biology. The East-West Center, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. pp. 32-40.
  • Skerman, P.J. & Riveros, F., 1990. Tropical grasses. FAO, Rome. pp. 373-375.


C. Manidool