Herb: Finger Millet

Latin name: Eleusine coracana

Synonyms: Cynosurus coracanus

Family: Gramineae (Grass Family)

Medicinal use of Finger Millet:

The seed is astringent, tonic and cooling. It is used in the treatment of fevers, biliousness and hepatitis. The leaf juice has been given to women in childbirth, and the plant is reported to be diaphoretic, diuretic, and vermifuge. The plant is a folk remedy for treating leprosy, liver disease, measles, pleurisy, pneumonia, and small pox.

Description of the plant:


30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Savannah and upland grassland.

Edible parts of Finger Millet:

Seed - cooked. Used as a millet, the seed can be cooked whole or ground and used as a flour. It is used in cakes, puddings, porridge etc. The flour makes a very fair unleavened bread if it is first soaked overnight in water. It is often used in making fermented foods. Finger millet is the main food grain for many peoples, especially in dry areas of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The grain is higher in protein, fat and minerals than rice, corn, or sorghum. When consumed as food it provides a sustaining diet, especially for people doing hard work. The grain may also be malted and a flour of the malted grain used as a nourishing food for infants and invalids. Finger millet is considered an especially wholesome food for diabetics. The seed is about 2mm in diameter. A nutritional analysis is available. Seed yield is about 5 Tonnes per hectare. Ragi grain possesses excellent storage properties and is said to improve in quality with storage. Seed can be stored without damage for as long as 50 years. They are highly valued as a reserve food in times of famine. Yield depends on variety and is directly related to duration, height and tillering capacity of type grown. Types with straight spikes give better yields than those with curved spikes.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow early spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out in late spring after the last expected frosts. The seed can also be sown in mid to late spring in situ, though if the summer is cool it might not ripen its seed.

Cultivation of Finger Millet:

Savannah and upland grassland.

Known hazards of Eleusine coracana:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.