Millet, or Milium, L. a genus of plants, consisting of five species ; of which the following are the principal; namely :
1. The panicum, or Common Millet; which is a native of India, and seldom cultivated in Britain, except in gardens, for the sake of its small round seed, that affords grateful food to poultry. It may, however, be easily propagated, by sowing it in the beginning of April, upon a warm dry soil, but not too thick ; because the plants, when growing, expand,and require much room. Hence they should be kept clean from weeds, at their first shooting up. In August, the seed attains to maturity; but, if exposed to the depredations of birds, they will devour it as soon as it begins to ripen.—There is a variety of this species, called the African Millet, the culture of which has been recommended by M. Tschiffeli, of Switzerland. It flourishes in every soil, requires neither rich manures,nor laborious tillage; and it is not devoured by birds, nor does it exhaust the soil, though affording very abundant crops.— Another variety of this species is the panicum germanicum, cultivated in Germany and the south of Europe ; and which, according to M. Buse, of Erfurt, thrives in a good clayey soil, where it sometimes produces more than thousand-fold returns.
2. The effusum, Millet-grass, or Soft Millet ; which is a native of Britain, grows from five to six feet in height, in moist shady woods ; and flowers in the months of May and June.—This plant is very beautiful; and, though it has no useful property to recommend it to the industrious farmer, yet it deserves to be cultivated in shady gardens, on account of its flagrant odour.—Its seeds are eaten with great avidity by linnets.
Besides its utility for feeding poultry, millet is highly esteemed for making puddings, and by many preferred to rice. As an article of food, however, it is by no means equal either to blanched oats, or barley, and ought not to be eaten by persons whose organs of digestion are weak, or impaired.