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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 numerous species of grasses, 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 warmer climates worldwide. Species are native to tropical and subtropical regions of all continents in addition to the South West Pacific and Australasia. Sorghum is in the subfamily Panicoideae and the tribe Andropogoneae (the tribe of big bluestem and sugar cane).

For more specific details on commercially exploited sorghum, see commercial sorghum.

Cultivation and uses

Sorghum output in 2005.

One species, Sorghum bicolor,[1] is an important world crop, used for food (as grain and in sorghum syrup or "sorghum molasses"), fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, as well as biofuels. Most varieties are drought and heat tolerant, and are especially important in arid regions, where the grain is staple or one of the staples for poor and rural people. They form an important component of pastures in many tropical regions. Sorghum is an important food crop in Africa, Central America, and South Asia and is the "fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world".[2]

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. Stressed plants, even at later stages of growth, can also contain toxic levels of cyanide.[citation needed]

Another Sorghum species, Johnson grass (S. halapense), is classified as an invasive species in the US by the Department of Agriculture.[3]

Sorghum vulgare var. technicum is commonly called broomcorn.[4]



  • Sorghum × almum
  • Sorghum × drummondii

Sorghum genome

In 2009, a team of international researchers announced they had sequenced the sorghum genome.[5][6]

See also


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  2. Sorghum, U.S. Grains Council.
  3. Johnson Grass, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Accessed 2257 UDT, 12 March, 2009.
  4. Broomcorn, Alternative Field Crops Manual, Purdue University, Accessed 14 Mar 2011.
  5. Sequencing of sorghum genome completed EurekAlert, January 28, 2010, Retrieved August 30, 2010
  6. Paterson, A.; Bowers, J.; Bruggmann, R.; Dubchak, I.; Grimwood, J.; Gundlach, H.; Haberer, G.; Hellsten, U.; Mitros, T. (2009). "The Sorghum bicolor genome and the diversification of grasses". Nature. 457 (7229): 551–556. Bibcode:2009Natur.457..551P. doi:10.1038/nature07723. PMID 19189423. edit
  • 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.

External links

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