Millet in China

  • Gary W. Crawford
Living reference work entry
Millets comprise an informal (not a taxonomic category) group of about a dozen small-grained grass crops common mainly to Africa and Asia. Two millets formed the foundation of North Chinese agricultural developments. One is foxtail millet ( Setaria italica ssp. italica; Fig. 1) and the other is broomcorn (proso or common millet, Panicum miliaceum; Fig. 2). Both are in the subfamily Panicoideae, tribe Paniceae, of the Poaceae (grass family). A third East Asian millet, Japanese or barnyard millet ( Echinochloa utilis), does not appear in the archaeological record of China until quite late. Japanese millet, as the name indicates, was domesticated in Japan (Crawford, 1983, 2011). Two other plants grown in East Asia today, Job’s tears ( Coix lacryma- jobi) and sorghum ( Sorghum bicolor), are considered by some to be millets. Coixis native to China but little is known about its history. Sorghum is not indigenous to East Asia and reports of its presence in the Neolithic archaeological record are...


Radiocarbon Date Archaeological Record Foxtail Millet Panicum Miliaceum Barnyard Millet 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada