Plants annual. Culms 50-300 cm, erect, branching; nodes glabrous. Sheaths glabrous or pubescent, with or without ciliate margins; ligules 2-5 mm; blades 15-100 cm long, 7-70 mm wide, flat, glabrous or pubescent. Panicles terminal, 4-200 cm long, 2-70 mm wide, fully exerted from the sheaths, erect; rachises terete, densely pubescent. Fascicles 33-160 per cm; fascicle axes 1-28 mm, persistent, with 1-9 spikelets; outer bristles 44-131, 0.5-6 mm; inner bristles 6-19, 4-6 mm, plumose; primary bristles 5.5-6.3, ciliate, some¬times noticeably longer than the other bristles. Spikelets 3-7 mm; pedicels 0.6-1.8 mm; lower glumes absent or to 1.5 mm, veinless; upper glumes 0.5-3.5 mm, 3-5-veined; lower florets staminate or sterile; lower lemmas 1.5-6 mm, glabrous, 3-7-veined, margins ciliate; lower paleas vestigial or fully developed, margins ciliate; anthers 2.2-2.5 mm, penicillate; upper florets coriaceous, shiny; upper lemmas 4.3-7 mm, 5-7(9)-veined, margins ciliate; upper paleas 3.4-3.9 mm, pubescent, at least near the base, margins ciliate; anthers 2-2.2 mm, penicillate. Caryopses 2-5.5 mm long, 1.6-3.2 mm wide, protruding from the lemma and palea at maturity. 2n = 14.
Wash., Va., Del., D.C., Wis., W.Va., Conn., Mass., Maine, N.H., R.I., Vt., Fla., Wyo., Puerto Rico, N.J., N.Mex., Tex., La., N.Dak., Tenn., N.C., S.C., Pa., S.Dak., N.Y., Nev., Ala., Ga., Iowa, Idaho, Kans., Mich., Minn., Mont., Nebr., Okla., Oreg., Colo., Calif., Ark., Ill., Ind., Ariz., Md., Ohio, Utah, Mo., Miss., Ky.
Pennisetum glaucum, a native of Asia, is cultivated in the United States for grain, forage, and birdseed. It is the most drought tolerant of the tropical cereal crops. Under favorable conditions, 10,000-30,000+ fascicles may be produced. In the Flora region, it is used for soil stabilization, partly because it seldom persists for more than 1-2 years.