this study characterized seven pennisetum purpureum varieties, namely v. an？o, bajra, cameroon, gua？u, roxo, taiwan a-144 and uruckwami, through biochemical analyses, including protein, glucose and fructose contents, and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis using the esterase system, by sampling 30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 day-old leaves. the number of nodes per stem and the percentage of bud emergence were also recorded. variety taiwan a-144 presented the highest number of nodes per stem and percentage of emerging buds. protein concentration decreased gradually after 60 days for all varieties, except for an？o. variety gua？u presented the highest level of glucose in 90 day-old plants, whereas cameroon presented the highest levels at 120 and 150 days. the esterase band patterns changed with plant age for all varieties, showing a tendency to increase the number of bands with time. the best age for discriminating between esterase bands of p. purpureum varieties was at 120 days, when most variation could be observed.