Cenchrus americanus (Syn. Pennisetum glaucum) ‘Purple Majesty’ (Pearl Millet, Ornamental Millet)

Cenchrus americanus ‘Purple Majesty’ after I brought it home on 5-21-15, #259-13.

‘Purple Majesty’ Ornamental Millet

Cenchrus americanus

‘Purple Majesty’

SENCH-rus a-mer-ih-KAY-nus


Pennisetum glaucum

pen-ih-SEE-tum GLAW-kum

Synonyms… Well, most of the time I list the synonyms of the species here, but there are 81… If you wish to see the list from Plants the World Online click HERE.

Cenchrus americanus (L.) Morrone is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Cenchrus. It was named and described as such by Osvaldo Marrone in Annals of Botany in 2010. It was first named and described as Panicum americanum by Carl Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753.

The species is most popularly known as Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R.Br. which is now considered a synonym of Cenchrus americanus. It was named and described as such by Robert Brown in Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae van-Diemen in 1810. It was first described as Panicum glaucum by Carl Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753.

The genus, Cenchrus L., was named and described as such by Carl Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.

As of 12-9-21 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 107 species in the Cenchrus genus. It is a member of the plant family Poaceae with 790 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.

The Cenchrus and Pennisetum genera are very closely related and species have been moved back and forth from time to time. The Wikipedia page says, “Authors recently proposed to transfer Pennisetum into Cenchrus, along with the related genus Odontelytrum.” Well, right now, if you click on Odontelytrum, it takes you to the Cenchrus page already but not Pennisetum…

Formerly, the Pennisetum species included various grasses and grains and is commonly referred to as the fountain grass family. The Cenchrus genus is a family of buffalo grasses, sandburs, and sand spur. In other words, members of one genus are loved and the other hated. 🙂 I hesitated to completely change the genus and species name on this blog because names keep changing back and forth and become synonyms of one or the other. But, since the name stuck for a while I decided to go ahead and change it. Keep in mind, just because many websites use the other names it doesn’t mean they are wrong. They can use whatever name they choose as long as they were validly published.


Cenchrus americanus ‘Purple Majesty’ on 6-14-15, #268-35.

I brought my first ‘Purple ‘Majesty’ Ornamental Millet home from Wagler’s Greenhouse in the spring of 2015. I have wanted to try these for many years, but pots at Lowe’s were always too expensive. Wagler’s has some larger pots, but they also have pots with just one plant which were much less expensive. I should have bought more than one, but then again, that would have cost just as much as one big pot.

Cenchrus americanus ‘Purple Majesty’ on 6-14-15, #268-36.

Cenchrus americanus/Pennisetum glaucum, commonly known as the Pearl Millet, has been cultivated in western Africa for a very long time. The earliest archaeobotanical research confirmed evidence of “domesticated” Pearl Millet being grown in the Sahel zone of West Africa in northern Mali between 2,500 and 2,000 BC. Other species of Millet have been grown in Asia for the past 10,000 years.

Cenchrus americanus ‘Purple Majesty’ on 6-27-15, #270-37.

Family: Poaceae.
Origin: Africa.
Zones: USDA Zones 7a-11 (0 to 40° F).
Size: 36-48” tall.
Light: Sun to part shade.
Soil: Average, well-drained soil.
Water: Average water needs.
Uses: Beds and planters.

Cenchrus americanus ‘Purple Majesty’ on 6-27-15, #270-38.

Besides being grown for human consumption, Millet is also popular as birdseed…

Cenchrus americanus ‘Purple Majesty’ on 7-12-15, #271-30.

I saved the seed but I didn’t plant them when spring came. A lot of good saving the seed did, huh? A mass planting of ‘Purple Majesty’ is definitely a beautiful sight and buying the seed is definitely a lot cheaper than buying plants.

I would like to bring home more of these plants but I haven’t found them locally since

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.

WIKIPEDIA (Pennisetum/Cenchrus/SPECIES)

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