Domestication of mawa millet (Echinochloa colona)

Abstract

Two species of Echinochloa are grown as cereals. Echinochloa crusgalli is native to temperate Eurasia and was domesticated in Japan some 4,000 yr ago. Echinochloa colona is widely distributed in the tropics and subtropics of the Old World. It was domesticated in India. Echinochloa colona is morphologically allied to E. crusgalli, but hybrids between them are sterile. Echinochloa colona differs consistently from E. crusgalli in having smaller spikelets with membran-aceous rather than chartaceous glumes. Hybrids between wild and cultivated taxa of E. colona and between those of E. crusgalli are fertile. Cultivated E. colona is variable. It is grown as a cereal across India, Kashmir and Sikkim. Four morphological races are recognized, although these do not have geographical, ecological or ethnological unity. Race laxa is confined to Sikkim where races robusta, intermedia and stolonifera are also grown. In India, races robusta, intermedia and stolonifera are often grown as mixtures, and Echinochloa is sometimes grown as a mixture with other cereals, particularly Setaria italica (foxtail millet) or Eleusine coracana (finger millet). The species is planted on poor soil, and some cultivars mature in less than 2 mo. They hold considerable promise as cereals for the semiarid tropics.

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Correspondence to J. M. J. de Wet.

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de Wet, J.M.J., Prasada Rao, K.E., Mengesha, M.H. et al. Domestication of mawa millet (Echinochloa colona). Econ Bot 37, 283–291 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02858883

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Keywords

  • Discriminant Function
  • Economic Botany
  • Flag Leaf
  • Finger Millet
  • Foxtail Millet