Panicum colonum Linn.
Annual; culms 10-100 cm high, erect or ascending. Leaf-blades 5-30 cm long. 2-8 mm wide, occasionally marked with purple bars; ligule absent; sheaths glabrous. Inflorescence typically linear, 1-15 cm long, the racemes neatly 4-rowed, seldom over 3 cm long, simple, commonly ± half their length apart and appressed to the axis but sometimes subverticillate and spreading. Spikelets ovate-elliptic to subglobose, 1.5-3 mm long, pubescent; lower lemma acute to cuspidate (rarely with a subulate point up to 1 mm long); upper lemma 2-3 mm long.
Fl. & Fr. Per.: May -September
Type: Jamaica, Browne (LINN).
Distribution: Pakistan (Sind, Baluchistan, Punjab, N.W.F.P. & Kashmir); through-out the tropics and subtropics.
Panicum colona (Jungle rice, Deccan Grass, Millet Rice, Corn Panic Grass) can usually be recognised by the short, distant, neatly 4-rowed racemes; less constant characters are the small round awnless spikelets with soft indumentum. However, there is a certain amount of variation, and forms with elliptic pointed spikelets tend to intergrade with Panicum crusgalli.
The epithet is sometimes treated as the irregular genitive plural of a noun (“of the fanners”) and spelt colonum. However, there seems no reason to depart from the adjectival form familiar to botanists; though not in the purest classical tradition, its use was sanctioned by lexicographers of Linnaeus’ own time.
Panicum colon is considered to be one of the finest fodder grasses and is eagerly eaten by cattle both before and after flowering. Aitchison (fide Duthie) reported last century that it was cultivated in Jhelum district.