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This article is about the plant genus. For the principal modern crop species, see Sorghum bicolor. For other crop uses, see Commercial sorghum. For other uses, see Sorghum (disambiguation).
Sorghum bicolor
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Panicoideae
Tribe: Andropogoneae
Genus: Sorghum
Moench 1794, conserved name not Sorgum Adanson 1763
Type species
Sorghum bicolor
(L.) Moench
  • Blumenbachia Koeler 1802, rejected name not Schrad. 1825 (Loasaceae)
  • Sarga Ewart
  • Vacoparis Spangler
  • Andropogon subg. Sorghum Hackel.

Sorghum is a genus of plants in the grass family. Most species are native to Australia, with some extending to Africa, Asia, Mesoamerica, and certain islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

One species is raised for grain and many of which are used as fodder plants, either cultivated or as part of pasture. The plants are cultivated in warm climates worldwide and naturalized in many places.[8] Sorghum is in the subfamily Panicoideae and the tribe Andropogoneae (the tribe of big bluestem and sugarcane).

Cultivation and uses[edit]

One species, Sorghum bicolor,[9] native to Africa with many cultivated forms now,[10] is an important crop worldwide, used for food (as grain and in sorghum syrup or "sorghum molasses"), fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, and biofuels. Most varieties are drought- and heat-tolerant, and are especially important in arid regions, where the grain is one of the staples for poor and rural people. These varieties form important components of pastures in many tropical regions. S. bicolor is an important food crop in Africa, Central America, and South Asia, and is the "fifth-most important cereal crop grown in the world".[11]

Some species of sorghum can contain levels of hydrogen cyanide, hordenine, and nitrates lethal to grazing animals in the early stages of the plants' growth. When stressed by drought or heat, plants can also contain toxic levels of cyanide and/or nitrates at later stages in growth.[12]

Another Sorghum species, Johnson grass (S. halapense), is classified as an invasive species in the US by the Department of Agriculture.[13]


S. vulgare var. technicum is commonly called broomcorn.[14] An annual grass like other Sorghums, it grows 6 to 15 feet (1.8 to 4.6 m) tall, although dwarf varieties are only 3 to 7 feet (0.91 to 2.13 m) in height. The upper peduncle is normally 8 to 18 inches (200 to 460 mm) long, topped by a branched inflorescence or panicle, from which the seed-bearing fibers originate. The fibers are usually 12 to 24 inches (300 to 610 mm) long, but can be up to 36 inches (910 mm) long; they are branched toward the tip where the flowers and seed grow. The seeds number about 30,000/lb (70,000/kg), with feed value similar to oats. A ton of the fibrous panicle makes 900 to 1200 brooms.[14]

Plants selected for long-panicle branches probably originated in central Africa, but the variety was known to be used for broom-making in the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages. It was first described in Italy in the late 1500s.[14]


Accepted Species[1][not in citation given]
  1. Sorghum amplum - northwestern Australia
  2. Sorghum angustum - Queensland
  3. Sorghum arundinaceum - Africa, Indian Subcontinent, Madagascar, islands of western Indian Ocean
  4. Sorghum bicolor — cultivated sorghum, often individually called sorghum, also known as durra, jowari, or milo. - native to Sahel region of Africa; naturalized in many places
  5. Sorghum brachypodum - Northern Territory of Australia
  6. Sorghum bulbosum - Northern Territory, Western Australia
  7. Sorghum burmahicum - Thailand, Myanmar
  8. Sorghum controversum - India
  9. Sorghum × drummondii - Sahel + West Africa
  10. Sorghum ecarinatum - Northern Territory, Western Australia
  11. Sorghum exstans - Northern Territory of Australia
  12. Sorghum grande - Northern Territory, Queensland
  13. Sorghum halepense — Johnson grass - North Africa, islands of eastern Atlantic, southern Asia from Lebanon to Vietnam; naturalized in East Asia, Australia, the Americas
  14. Sorghum interjectum - Northern Territory, Western Australia
  15. Sorghum intrans - Northern Territory, Western Australia
  16. Sorghum laxiflorum - Philippines, Lesser Sunda Islands, Sulawesi, New Guinea, northern Australia
  17. Sorghum leiocladum -Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria
  18. Sorghum macrospermum - Northern Territory of Australia
  19. Sorghum matarankense - Northern Territory, Western Australia
  20. Sorghum nitidum - East Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Micronesia
  21. Sorghum plumosum - Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia
  22. Sorghum propinquum - China , Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Christmas Island, Micronesia, Cook Islands
  23. Sorghum purpureosericeum - Sahel from Mali to Tanzania; Yemen, Oman, India
  24. Sorghum stipoideum - Northern Territory, Western Australia
  25. Sorghum timorense - Lesser Sunda Islands, Maluku, New Guinea, northern Australia
  26. Sorghum trichocladum - Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras
  27. Sorghum versicolor - eastern + southern Africa from Ethiopia to Namibia; Oman
  28. Sorghum virgatum - dry regions from Senegal to Palestine
formerly included[1][not in citation given]

many species once considered part of Sorghum but now considered better suited to other genera: Andropogon Arthraxon Bothriochloa Chrysopogon Cymbopogon Danthoniopsis Dichanthium Diectomis Diheteropogon Exotheca Hyparrhenia Hyperthelia Monocymbium Parahyparrhenia Pentameris Pseudosorghum Schizachyrium Sorghastrum

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Moench, Conrad. 1794. Methodus Plantas Horti Botanici et Agri Marburgensis : a staminum situ describendi page 207 in Latin
  3. ^ Tropicos, Sorghum Moench
  4. ^ Flora of China Vol. 22 Page 600 高粱属 gao liang shu Sorghum Moench, Methodus. 207. 1794
  5. ^ Flora of Pakistan, Sorghum Moench., Meth. Bot. 207. 1794
  6. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, genere Sorghum
  7. ^ Atlas of Living Australia
  8. ^ Biota of North America Program 2013 county distribution maps
  9. ^ Mutegi, Evans; Fabrice Sagnard, Moses Muraya, Ben Kanyenji, Bernard Rono, Caroline Mwongera, Charles Marangu, Joseph Kamau, Heiko Parzies, Santie de Villiers, Kassa Semagn, Pierre Traoré, Maryke Labuschagne (2010-02-01). "Ecogeographical distribution of wild, weedy and cultivated Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench in Kenya: implications for conservation and crop-to-wild gene flow". Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 57 (2): 243–253. doi:10.1007/s10722-009-9466-7. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Sorghum, U.S. Grains Council.
  12. ^ Cyanide (prussic acid) and nitrate in sorghum crops - managing the risks. Primary industries and fisheries. Queensland Government. 21 April 2011.
  13. ^ Johnson Grass, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Accessed 2257 UDT, 12 March 2009.
  14. ^ a b c Broomcorn, Alternative Field Crops Manual, Purdue University, Accessed 14 Mar 2011.

External links[edit]