Pennisetum glaucum/Cenchrus americanus ‘Purple Majesty’-Pearl Millet, Ornamental Millet

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

‘Purple Majesty’ Ornamental Millet

Pennisetum glaucum
‘Purple Majesty’

pen-ih-SEE-tum GLAW-kum

OR

Cenchrus americanus

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

Most databases and information online say Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R.Br. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this plant. It was named and described 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 Pennisetum Pers. was named and described by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon in Synopsis Plantarum in 1805.

Plants of the World Online, once again, has a different opinion… Their website says Cenchrus americanus (L.) Morrone is the correct and accepted scientific name. It was named and described as such by Osvaldo Marrone in Annals of Botany in 2010. This species was described as Panicum americanum by Carl Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753.

The genus Cenchrus L. was described by Carl Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753. Plants of the World Online lists 93 accepted species in the genus and lists the Pennisetum genus as a synonym.

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…

Even though Plants of the World Online say Pennisetum is already a synonym of Cenchrus, I am not going to say that just yet on this blog. Most every website, including information on the Wikipedia, are still saying Pennisetum is an accepted genus. Personally, I think there are enough differences between the two genera to keep them separate. The Pennisetum species include various grasses and grains and is commonly referred to as the fountain grass family. The Cenchrus genus is a family of buffelgrasses, sandburs, and sand spur. In other words, members of one genus are loved and the other hated.

There are so many Pennisetum species and cultivars that have been very popular for so many years as ornamental grasses. Why go and change the name after everyone is so used to it? What is the difference between moving the species of one genus to another or leaving it the same? What is important is one species not having multiple names and being in multiple genera. I have more reasons but I will stop here. I am not a taxonomist, botanist or horticulturalist. I am just a gardener and blogger.

 

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

I bought my first ‘Purple ‘Majesty’ Ornamental Millet 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.

 

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

Pennisetum glaucum, commonly known as the Pearl Millet, has been cultivated in western Africa for a very long time. 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 Millets have been grown in Asia for the past 10,000 years.

 

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

 

USEFUL INFORMATION:
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

 

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

Besides being grown for human consumption, Millet is also popular as a bird seed…

 

Pennisetum glaucum/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 grow more, maybe even in 2018. We shall see…

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.

FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
WIKIPEDIA (GENUS/SPECIES)(Cenchrus)
DAVE’S GARDEN
GARDENING KNOW HOW
UW MASTER GARDENER PROGRAM

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