The species has two subspecies; africana and coracana. Subspecies africana is diploid (2n=18) while subspecies coracana is a tetraploid derived from the diploid subspecies.
Finger millet is very adaptable to a wide range of environmental and climatic conditions. It thrives at higher elevations than most other tropical cereals and tolerates salinity and high temperatures better than most cereals. It is one of the more nutritious cereals and important for small-holder farmers.
Finger millet is mostly self-pollinating, with some amount of cross-pollination (1%) mediated by wind.