Any of various grasses (family Poaceae), that produce small, edible seeds used as forage crops and as food cereals. Most millets range in height from 1 to 4 ft (0.3 to 1.3 m). Except for pearl millet (Pennisetum americanum), seeds remain enclosed in hulls after threshing. Cultivated in China since at least the 3rd millennium BCE, millets are today an important food staple in much of Asia, Russia, and western Africa. High in carbohydrates, they are somewhat strong in taste and cannot be made into leavened bread, so they are consumed mainly in flatbreads and porridges or prepared and eaten much like rice. In the U.S. and western Europe they are used chiefly for pasture or to produce hay.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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