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Genus Setaria Family Poaceae

Description: Annuals or perennials of various habit.

Ligule a ciliate rim; blade usually rolled or folded in bud.

Inflorescence a narrow, terminal panicle, usually dense and spike-like.

Spikelets usually with 1-numerous subtending branches; spikelets falling entire, the bristles persistent; florets 1 or 2, upper bisexual, lower sterile or male. Glumes unequal, the lower broader. Lemmas 2, lower sterile, upper fertile, transversely rugose. Paleas 2, unequal, lower minute or absent.

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 100 species, tropical & temperate areas. Australia: 17 species (10 species naturalized), all mainland States.

S. italica is grown for grain in Asia and birdseed in Aust.; other species are valuable pasture grasses, some are ornamental and others weeds. Derivation: from the Latin word for ‘bristle’.

Text by S. W. L. Jacobs & S. M. Hastings
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Setaria poiretiana

 Key to the species 
1Robust plants with broad, plicate (pleated), palm-like leaf-blades, usually hairy, 30–90 cm long and 3–12 cm wide, narrow-elliptical; panicle open with spreading branches; most spikelets without bristles except for those on the ends of branchesSetaria palmifolia
Leaf-blades neither pleated (or only slightly so) nor palm-like; panicle contracted, usually spike-like; most or all spikelets subtended by 1 or more bristles2
2Bristles retrorsely barbed, spikelets usually subtended by 1 bristle; upper glume equal to the spikeletSetaria verticillata
Bristles antrorsely barbed; spikelets subtended by 1-many bristles or some spikelets without bristles; upper glume ± shorter than the spikelet
                       Back to 1
3Panicle narrow but neither dense nor conspicuously bristly; not all spikelets subtended by a bristle and then by 1 bristle onlySetaria paspalidioides
Panicle narrow and cylindrical or linear-lanceolate in outline; always dense and bristly; spikelet(s) subtended by 1 or more bristles
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4Spikelets in clusters subtended by usually >1 bristle, retained in the inflorescence on threshing; fertile floret separating from the rest of the spikelet; panicle often lobedSetaria italica
Spikelets not retained in the inflorescence at maturity; fertile floret falling enclosed by glumes and lower lemma; panicle not lobed; spikelets ± in clusters
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5Nodes beardedSetaria incrassata
Nodes glabrous
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6Upper glume as long as the spikelet, the back of the fertile lemma not exposedSetaria viridis
Upper glume 50–75% the length of the spikelet exposing the rugose back of the fertile floret
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7Panicle linear-lanceolate in outline; spikelets 3–4 mm long on branches to 2.2 cm long; ligule 2–3 mm long; cane-like perennialSetaria australiensis
Panicle linear, cylindrical; spikelets usually not >3 mm long; branches <1 cm long; ligule to 1.5 mm long
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8Plants perennial; bristles evenly coloured9
Plants annual; bristles usually pale at the base
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9Plants forming large tufts to 2 m tall with strongly compressed and keeled leaf-sheaths (especially at the base of the plant); 1–4 spikelets on each branch; panicle to 35 cm long; bristles brownishSetaria sphacelata
Plants with wiry rhizomes to 4 cm long, not forming tall tufts, culms spreading or ascending, to 1.2 m long; spikelets solitary on each panicle branch; panicle to 10 cm long; bristles yellow or purplish
                       Back to 8
Setaria parviflora
10Leaf-blades 2–4 mm wide; culms slender; spikelets 2.5–3 mm long; bristles evenly coloured; panicle 2–5 cm longSetaria surgens
Leaf-blades 4–10 mm wide; culms stout at the base; spikelets 3–3.5 mm long, bristles pale at the base; panicle 1–15 cm long
                       Back to 8
Setaria pumila

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