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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

About 30 species, see text

Sorghum is a genus of grasses with about 30 species, one of which 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. They are native to the tropics and subtropics of the Old World and one species is endemic to Mexico; a number have been introduced into other parts of the world.[1] Sorghum is in the subfamily Panicoideae and the tribe of Andropogoneae (the tribe of big bluestem and sugar cane).

Cultivation and uses[edit]

A sorghum field in Central America

One species, Sorghum bicolor,[2] native to Africa with many cultivated forms now,[3] 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. Sorghum 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".[4]

Some species of sorghum can contain levels of hydrogen cyanide, hordenine and nitrates lethal to grazing animals in the early stages of the plant's growth. When stressed by drought or heat, plants can also contain toxic levels of cyanide and/or nitrates at later stages in growth.[5]

Another Sorghum species, Johnson grass (S. halapense), is classified as an invasive species in the US by the Department of Agriculture.[6]


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

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 Dark Ages. It was first described in Italy in the late 1500s.[7]



  • Sorghum × almum
  • Sorghum × drummondii

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=130722
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200026333
  4. ^ Sorghum, U.S. Grains Council.
  5. ^ Cyanide (prussic acid) and nitrate in sorghum crops - managing the risks. Primary industries and fisheries. Queensland Government. http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/4790_20318.htm. 21 April 2011.
  6. ^ Johnson Grass, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Accessed 2257 UDT, 12 March, 2009.
  7. ^ a b c Broomcorn, Alternative Field Crops Manual, Purdue University, Accessed 14 Mar 2011.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorghum — Please support Wikipedia.
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China stepping up checks on U.S. sorghum cargoes -traders. * Could slash imports of the corn-substitute. * Has already rejected more than 1 mln T of U.S. corn. By Niu Shuping and Dominique Patton. BEIJING, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Chinese authorities are ...

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