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 Andropogoneae (the tribe of big bluestem and sugarcane).
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. 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".4
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.5
S. vulgare var. technicum is commonly called broomcorn.7 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.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 Middle Ages. It was first described in Italy in the late 1500s.7
- Sorghum almum
- Sorghum amplum
- Sorghum angustum
- Sorghum arundinaceum
- Sorghum bicolor — cultivated sorghum, often individually called sorghum, also known as durra, jowari, or milo.
- Sorghum bicolor subsp. drummondii — Sudan grass
- Sorghum brachypodum
- Sorghum bulbosum
- Sorghum burmahicum
- Sorghum ecarinatum
- Sorghum exstans
- Sorghum grande
- Sorghum halepense — Johnson grass
- Sorghum interjectum
- Sorghum intrans
- Sorghum laxiflorum
- Sorghum leiocladum
- Sorghum macrospermum
- Sorghum matarankense
- Sorghum nitidum
- Sorghum plumosum
- Sorghum propinquum
- Sorghum purpureosericeum
- Sorghum stipoideum
- Sorghum timorense
- Sorghum trichocladum
- Sorghum versicolor
- Sorghum verticiliflorum
- Sorghum vulgare var. technicum — broomcorn
- Sorghum × almum
- Sorghum × drummondii
- Baijiu - Chinese alcoholic beverage distilled from sorghum
- List of antioxidants in food
- Push–pull technology pest control strategy for maize and sorghum
- 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.
- Sorghum, U.S. Grains Council.
- 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.
- Johnson Grass, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Accessed 2257 UDT, 12 March, 2009.
- Broomcorn, Alternative Field Crops Manual, Purdue University, Accessed 14 Mar 2011.
- Watson, Andrew M. Agricultural Innovation in the Early Islamic World: The Diffusion of Crops and Farming Techniques, 700–1100. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983. ISBN 0-521-24711-X.
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- Species Profile- Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense), National Invasive Species Information Center, United States National Agricultural Library. Lists general information and resources for Johnsongrass.
- FAO Report (1995) "Sorghum and millets in human nutrition"
- Sorghum on US Grains Council Web Site
- National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association
- Sweet Sorghum Ethanol Association, organization for the promotion and development of sweet Sorghum as a source for biofuels, especially ethanol
- Milo, Grain Sorghum
- Cyanide (prussic acid) and nitrate in sorghum crops - managing the risks