Plants annual. Culms 80-150 cm tall, 4-10 mm thick, glabrous. Sheaths
glabrous; ligules absent, ligule region sometimes pubescent; blades
10-50 cm long, 5-25 mm wide. Panicles 7-30 cm, dense, rachis nodes densely
hispid, hairs papillose-based, internodes scabrous; primary branches 2-5
cm, erect or spreading, simple or branched, often incurved at maturity, nodes
hispid, hairs papillose-based, internodes usually scabrous; longer pedicels
0.5-1 mm. Spikelets 3-4 mm long, 2-2.5 mm wide, not or only tardily disarticulating
at maturity, obtuse to shortly acute, purplish to blackish-brown at maturity.
Upper glumes narrower and shorter than the upper lemmas; lower florets
sterile; lower lemmas usually unawned; lower paleas shorter and
narrower than the lemmas; upper lemmas longer and wider than the upper
glumes, broadly ovate to ovate-orbicular, shortly apiculate, exposed distally
at maturity; anthers 1-1.2 mm. Caryopses 1.2-2.3 mm, brownish; embryos
84-96% as long as the caryopses. 2n = 54.
Echinochloa esculenta was derived from E.
crus-galli in Japan, Korea, and China. It is cultivated for fodder, grain,
or birdseed. It has sometimes been included in Echinochloa
frumentacea, from which it differs in its brownish caryopses and longer
pedicels. Hybrids between E. crus-galli and E. esculenta are fully
fertile, but those with E. frumentacea are sterile.