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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Sorghum

About 30 species, see text

Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses, some of which are 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

Numerous Sorghum species are used for food (as grain and in sorghum syrup or "sorghum molasses"), fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, as well as biofuels. Most species are drought tolerant and heat tolerant and are especially important in arid regions. They form an important component of pastures in many tropical regions. Sorghum species are an important food crop in Africa, Central America, and South Asia and is the "fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world".[1] Kirsten Bomblies has investigated some of the genetic details of different crop varieties of Sorghum in various populations globally.

A Sorghum species, Johnson Grass, is classified as an invasive species in the US by the Department of Agriculture.[2]

The reclaimed stalks of the sorghum plant are used to make a decorative millwork material marketed as Kirei board.

Sweet Sorghum syrup is known as molasses in some parts of the U.S., though it is not true molasses.

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.

In China, sorghum is fermented and distilled to produce maotai, which is regarded as the country's most famous liquor.

In India, and other places, Sweet Sorghum stalks are used for producing bio-fuel by squeezing the juice and then fermenting into ethanol. Texas A&M University in the United States is currently running trials to produce the best varieties for ethanol production from sorghum leaves and stalks in the USA.


  • Sorghum almum
  • Sorghum amplum
  • Sorghum angustum
  • Sorghum arundinaceum
  • Sorghum bicolor (primary cultivated species)
  • Sorghum brachypodum
  • Sorghum bulbosum
  • Sorghum burmahicum
  • Sorghum controversum
  • Sorghum drummondii
  • Sorghum ecarinatum
  • Sorghum exstans
  • Sorghum grande
  • Sorghum halepense
  • Sorghum interjectum
  • Sorghum intrans
  • Sorghum laxiflorum
  • Sorghum leiocladum
  • Sorghum macrospermum
  • Sorghum matarankense
  • Sorghum miliaceum
  • Sorghum nigrum
  • Sorghum nitidum
  • Sorghum plumosum
  • Sorghum propinquum
  • Sorghum purpureosericeum
  • Sorghum stipoideum
  • Sorghum timorense
  • Sorghum trichocladum
  • Sorghum versicolor
  • Sorghum virgatum
  • Sorghum vulgare


  • Sorghum × almum
  • Sorghum × drummondii

See also


  1. ^ Sorghum, U.S. Grains Council.
  2. ^ Johnson Grass, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Accessed 2257 UDT, 12 March, 2009.


  • Sorghum was one of the foods served in the chain gang prison in the 1932 movie I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang.

External links

Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Sorghum.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:


See also Sorghum




EB1911A-pict1.png This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this word, please add it to the page as described here.


  • IPA: /ˈsɔ.gəm/, /ˈsɔɹ.gəm/



countable and uncountable; plural sorghums

sorghum (countable and uncountable; plural sorghums)

  1. A cereal, Sorghum vulgare or Sorghum bicolor, the grains of which are used to make flour and as cattle feed.


  • guinea corn - West Africa
  • Kafir corn - South Africa
  • mtama - East Africa
  • durra - Sudan
  • juar, jowar, cholam - India
  • kaoliang - China
  • milo - United States


Simple English

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Sorghum

Sorghum is a genus in the grass family Poaceae. The plants are grown in warmer climates. Species grow naturally in tropical and subtropical regions of all continents in addition to Oceania and Australasia. Because many species of Sorghum are resistant to drought and high temperatures, it is a very important food source in the desert areas of Africa.

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