Last updated

Sorghum bicolor
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Panicoideae
Supertribe: Andropogonodae
Tribe: Andropogoneae
Subtribe: Saccharinae
Genus: Sorghum
Moench 1794, conserved name not Sorgum Adanson 1763
Type species
Sorghum bicolor
Synonyms [1]
  • BlumenbachiaKoeler 1802, rejected name not Schrad. 1825 (Loasaceae)
  • SargaEwart
  • VacoparisSpangler
  • Andropogon subg. SorghumHackel.

Sorghum is a genus of about 25 species of flowering plants in the grass family Poaceae. Some of these species have grown as cereals for human consumption and some in pastures for animals. One species, Sorghum bicolor , was originally domesticated in Africa and has since spread throughout the globe. Seventeen of the 25 species are native to Australia, [2] [3] with the range of some extending to Africa, Asia, Mesoamerica, and certain islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. [4] [5] One species is grown for grain, while many others are used as fodder plants, either cultivated in warm climates worldwide or naturalized in pasture lands. [6] Sorghum is in the subfamily Panicoideae and the tribe Andropogoneae (the tribe of big bluestem and sugarcane).


Cultivation and uses

One species, Sorghum bicolor , [7] native to Africa with many cultivated forms now, [8] is an important crop worldwide, used for food (as grain and in sorghum syrup or "sorghum molasses"), animal fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, and biofuels. Sorghum's cultivation has been linked by archeological research back to ancient Sudan around 6,000 to 7,000 bp. [9]

All sorghums contain phenolic acids, and most contain flavonoids. [10] Sorghum grains are one of the highest food sources of the flavonoid proanthocyanidin. [11] Total phenol content (in both phenolic acids and flavonoids) is correlated with antioxidant activity. [10] Antioxidant activity is high in sorghums having dark pericarp and pigmented testa. [10] The antioxidant activity of sorghum may explain the reduced incidence of certain cancers in populations consuming sorghum. [10]

Popped sorghum is popular as a snack in India. The popped sorghum is similar to popcorn, but the puffs are smaller. [12] Recipes for popping sorghum by microwave, in a pot, etc, are readily available online. [13] [12]

Most varieties are drought- and heat-tolerant, and nitrogen-efficient, [14] 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 forage 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. [15] [16]

In the early stages of the plants' growth, some species of sorghum can contain levels of hydrogen cyanide, hordenine, and nitrates which are lethal to grazing animals. When stressed by drought or heat, plants can also contain toxic levels of cyanide and nitrates at later stages in growth. [17] [18]

Role in global economy

Global demand for sorghum increased dramatically between 2013 and 2015 when China began purchasing US sorghum crops to use as livestock feed as a substitute for domestically grown corn. China purchased around $1 billion worth of American sorghum per year until April 2018 when China imposed retaliatory duties on American sorghum as part of the trade war between the two countries. [19]


Accepted species

Species recorded include: [20]

Related Research Articles

Cereal Grass of which the fruits are used as grain, or said fruits

A cereal is any grass cultivated (grown) for the edible components of its grain, composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran. The term may also refer to the resulting grain itself. Cereal grain crops are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop and are therefore staple crops. Edible grains from other plant families, such as buckwheat, quinoa and chia, are referred to as pseudocereals.

Millet Group of grasses (food grain)

Millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for fodder and human food.

Proso millet Species of plant

Panicum miliaceum is a grain crop with many common names, including proso millet, broomcorn millet, common millet, hog millet, Kashfi millet, red millet, and white millet. Archaeological evidence suggests that the crop was first domesticated before 10,000 BCE in Northern China. The crop is extensively cultivated in China, India, Nepal, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Middle East, Turkey, Romania, and the United States, where about half a million acres are grown each year. The crop is notable both for its extremely short lifecycle, with some varieties producing grain only 60 days after planting, and its low water requirements, producing grain more efficiently per unit of moisture than any other grain species tested. The name "proso millet" comes from the pan-Slavic general and generic name for millet. Proso millet is a relative of foxtail millet, pearl millet, maize, and sorghum within the grass subfamily Panicoideae. While all of these crops use C4 photosynthesis, the others all employ the NADP-ME as their primary carbon shuttle pathway, while the primary C4 carbon shuttle in proso millet is the NAD-ME pathway.

<i>Eleusine coracana</i> Species of grass

Eleusine coracana, or finger millet, also known as ragi in India, kodo in Nepal, is an annual herbaceous plant widely grown as a cereal crop in the arid and semiarid areas in Africa and Asia. It is a tetraploid and self-pollinating species probably evolved from its wild relative Eleusine africana.

Pearl millet Species of cultivated grass

Pearl millet is the most widely grown type of millet. It has been grown in Africa and the Indian subcontinent since prehistoric times. The center of diversity, and suggested area of domestication, for the crop is in the Sahel zone of West Africa. Recent archaeobotanical research has confirmed the presence of domesticated pearl millet on the Sahel zone of northern Mali between 2500 and 2000 BC. Cultivation subsequently spread and moved overseas to India. The earliest archaeological records in the Indian subcontinent date to around 2000 BC, and it spread rapidly through Northern Indian subcontinent reaching South India by 1500 BC, based on evidence from the site of Hallur. Cultivation also spread throughout eastern and southern parts of Africa. Pearl millet is widely grown in the northeastern part of Nigeria. It is a major source of food to the local villagers of that region. The crop grows easily in that region due to its ability to withstand harsh weather conditions like drought and flood. Records exist for cultivation of pearl millet in the United States in the 1850s, and the crop was introduced into Brazil in the 1960s.

<i>Pennisetum</i> Genus of grasses

Pennisetum is a widespread genus of plants in the grass family, native to tropical and warm temperate regions of the world. They are known commonly as fountaingrasses. Pennisetum is considered a synonym of Cenchrus in Kew's Plants of the World Online.

<i>Chenopodium pallidicaule</i> Species of plant

Chenopodium pallidicaule, known as cañihua, canihua or cañahua and also kaniwa, is a species of goosefoot, similar in character and uses to the closely related quinoa(Chenopodium quinoa).

<i>Sorghum</i> × <i>drummondii</i> Hybrid species of grass

Sorghum × drummondii, is a hybrid-derived species of grass raised for forage and grain, native to tropical and subtropical regions of Eastern Africa. The plant is cultivated in Southern Europe, South America, Central America, North America and Southern Asia, for forage or as a cover crop.

History of agriculture notable events in the history of how plants and animals were domesticated and how techniques of raising them for human uses was developed

The history of agriculture records the domestication of plants and animals and the development and dissemination of techniques for raising them productively. Agriculture began independently in different parts of the globe, and included a diverse range of taxa. At least eleven separate regions of the Old and New World were involved as independent centers of origin.

Johnson grass Species of plant

Johnson grass or Johnsongrass, Sorghum halepense, is a plant in the grass family, Poaceae, native to Asia and northern Africa. The plant has been introduced to all continents except Antarctica, and most larger islands and archipelagos. It reproduces by rhizomes and seeds.

<i>Sorghum bicolor</i> Species of plant

Sorghum bicolor, commonly called sorghum and also known as great millet, durra, jowari / jowar, or milo, is a grass species cultivated for its grain, which is used for food for humans, animal feed, and ethanol production. Sorghum originated in Africa, and is now cultivated widely in tropical and subtropical regions. Sorghum is the world's fifth-most important cereal crop after rice, wheat, maize, and barley, with 59.34 million metric tons of annual global production in 2018. S. bicolor is typically an annual, but some cultivars are perennial. It grows in clumps that may reach over 4 m high. The grain is small, ranging from 2 to 4 mm in diameter. Sweet sorghums are sorghum cultivars that are primarily grown for forage, syrup production, and ethanol; they are taller than those grown for grain.

Dhurrin Chemical compound

Dhurrin is a cyanogenic glycoside produced in many plants. Discovered in multiple sorghum varieties in 1906 as the culprit of cattle poisoning by hydrogen cyanide, dhurrin is most typically associated with Sorghum bicolor, the organism used for mapping the biosynthesis of dhurrin from tyrosine. Dhurrin's name is derived from the Arabic word for sorghum, transliterated to "Dhura."

Commercial sorghum

Commercial sorghum is the cultivation and commercial exploitation of species of grasses within the genus Sorghum. These plants are used for grain, fibre and fodder. The plants are cultivated in warmer climates worldwide. Commercial Sorghum species are native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and Asia.

<i>Ascochyta sorghi</i> Species of fungus

Ascochyta sorghi is a fungal plant pathogen. It causes Ascochyta leaf spot on barley that can also be caused by the related fungi Ascochyta hordei, Ascochyta graminea and Ascochyta tritici. It is considered a minor disease of barley.


Chitemene, from the ciBemba word meaning “place where branches have been cut for a garden”, is a system of slash and burn agriculture practiced throughout northern Zambia. It involves coppicing or pollarding of standing trees in a primary or secondary growth Miombo woodland, stacking of the cut biomass, and eventual burning of the cut biomass in order to create a thicker layer of ash than would be possible with in situ burning. Crops such as maize, finger millet, sorghum, or cassava are then planted in the burned area.

Luteolinidin Ion

Luteolinidin is a member of the 3-deoxyanthocyanidins. It is a cation with ill-defined anions. This orange species that can be found in Sorghum bicolor.

Angoumois grain moth Species of moth

The Angoumois grain moth is a species of Gelechiidae.

Coniesta ignefusalis, the pearl millet stem-borer, is a moth in the family Crambidae. It was described by George Hampson in 1919.

Ancient grains Small, hard, dry seeds used as food

Ancient grains is a marketing term used to describe a category of grains and pseudocereals that are purported to have been minimally changed by selective breeding over recent millennia, as opposed to more widespread cereals such as corn, rice and modern varieties of wheat, which are the product of thousands of years of selective breeding. Ancient grains are often marketed as being more nutritious than modern grains, though their health benefits have been disputed by some nutritionists.

Sorghum is an important staple crop for more than 500 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, including many people in Nepal. In statistics collected from 1992-1994 about general millet, Nepal had an area of 0.21 million ha, with a yield rate of 1.14 (t/ha), and produced around 0.24 million tons of sorghum. The entirety of the crop is highly valued, with both the grain and the stem being utilized. The Terai region of Nepal tends to be more tropical which is ideal for the growth of sorghum. It tolerates hot climates better than maize or soybeans. For subsistence farmers, like those in Nepal, fertilizers are not necessary and the crop is frequently harvested by hand.


  1. "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" . Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  2. Sally L. Dillon; Peter K. Lawrence; Robert J. Henry; et al. "Sorghum laxiflorum and S. macrospermum, the Australian native species most closely related to the cultivated S. bicolor based on ITS1 and ndhF sequence analysis of 28 Sorghum species". Southern Cross Plant Science. Southern Cross University. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  3. Australia, Atlas of Living. "Sorghum - Atlas of Living Australia" . Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  4. "Tropicos, Sorghum Moench". Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  5. "Flora of China Vol. 22 Page 600 高粱属 gao liang shu Sorghum Moench, Methodus. 207. 1794". Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  6. "Sorghum". County-level distribution maps from the North American Plant Atlas (NAPA). Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  7. Mutegi, Evans; Sagnard, Fabrice; Muraya, Moses; et al. (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" (PDF). Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. 57 (2): 243–253. doi:10.1007/s10722-009-9466-7. S2CID   28318220.
  8. Stefan Hauser, Lydia Wairegi, Charles L. A. Asadu, Damian O. Asawalam, Grace Jokthan, Utiang Ugbe (2015). "Sorghum- and millet-legume cropping systems" (PDF). CABI and Africa Soil Health Consortium. Retrieved 7 October 2018.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  9. Carney, Judith (2009). In the Shadow of Slavery. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. p. 16. ISBN   9780520269965.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Dykes L, Rooney LW (2006). "Sorghum and millet phenols and antioxidants" (PDF). Journal of Cereal Science . 44 (3): 236–251. doi:10.1016/j.jcs.2006.06.007.
  11. Luca SV, Macovei I, Bujor A, Trifan A (2020). "Bioactivity of dietary polyphenols: The role of metabolites". Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition . 60 (4): 626–659. doi:10.1080/10408398.2018.1546669. PMID   30614249.
  12. 1 2 "Popped Sorghum". Recipes. Bob's Red Mill. 2021. Retrieved 2021-02-17.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. "Popped Sorghum". Recipes. Whole Foods Market. 2021. Retrieved 2021-02-17.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. Mulhollem, Jeff (10 August 2020). "Flavonoids' presence in sorghum roots may lead to frost-resistant crop". Pennsylvania State University. … sorghum is a crop that can respond to climate change because of its high water- and nitrogen-use efficiency …
  15. Tove Danovich (15 December 2015). "Move over, quinoa: sorghum is the new 'wonder grain'". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  16. Willy H. Verheye, ed. (2010). "Growth and Production of Sorghum and Millets". Soils, Plant Growth and Crop Production Volume II. EOLSS Publishers. ISBN   978-1-84826-368-0.
  17. "Cyanide (prussic acid) and nitrate in sorghum crops Primary industries and fisheries. Queensland Government" . Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  18. "Sorghum" . Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  19. "Sorghum, targeted by tariffs, is a U.S. crop China started buying only five years ago". LA Times. Apr 18, 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  20. "The Plant List: Sorghum". Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Missouri Botanic Garden. 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2017.

Further reading