S. bicolor
Scientific classification Edit this classification
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
S. bicolor
  • Blumenbachia Koeler 1802, rejected name not Schrad. 1825 (Loasaceae)
  • Sarga Ewart
  • Vacoparis Spangler
  • Andropogon Hackel.

Sorghum (/ˈsɔːrɡəm/) or broomcorn is a genus of about 25 species of flowering plants in the grass family (Poaceae). Some of these species are grown as cereals for human consumption, in pastures for animals as fodder, and as bristles for brooms.[2] Sorghum grain is a nutritious food rich in protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins, and minerals.

Sorghum is either cultivated in warm climates worldwide or naturalized in open plains.[3] In 2021, world production of sorghum was 61 million tonnes, with the United States as the leading grower.


Sorghum was domesticated from its wild ancestor more than 5,000 years ago in what is today Sudan. The newest evidence comes from an archaeological site near Kassala in eastern Sudan, dating from 3500 to 3000 BC, and is associated with the neolithic Butana Group culture.[4] It was the staple food of the kingdom of Alodia.[5]


Sorghum is in the grass family, Poaceae, in the subfamily Panicoideae, in the tribe Andropogoneae – the same as maize (Zea mays), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi), and sugarcane (Saccharum spp.).


Accepted species recorded include:[6]

Heap at a West African market
West African market
A plate of sorghum grain

Sorghum production – 2021
Country (Millions of tonnes)
 United States 11.4
 India 4.8
 Ethiopia 4.4
 Mexico 4.4
 Argentina 3.3
 China 3.0
World 61.4
Source: FAOSTAT of the United Nations[7]

Genetics and genomics

Agrobacterium transformation can be used on this genus,[8] as shown in a 2018 report of such a transformation system.[8] A 2013 study developed and validated an SNP array for molecular breeding.[9][10]

Distribution and habitat

Seventeen of the 25 species are native to Australia,[11][12][13][14] with the range of some extending to Africa, Asia, Mesoamerica, and certain islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.[15][16]


In 2021, world production of sorghum was 61 million tonnes, led by the United States with 19% of the total (table). India, Ethiopia, and Mexico were secondary producers.

Sorghum grain
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy329 kJ (79 kcal)
72.1 g
Sugars2.53 g
Dietary fiber6.7 g
3.46 g
Saturated0.61 g
Monounsaturated1.13 g
Polyunsaturated1.56 g
10.6 g
Vitamin A equiv.
0 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.332 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.096 mg
Niacin (B3)
3.69 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.367 mg
Vitamin B6
0.443 mg
Folate (B9)
20 μg
Vitamin C
0 mg
Vitamin E
0.5 mg
13 mg
0.284 mg
3.36 mg
165 mg
1.6 mg
289 mg
363 mg
12.2 μg
2 mg
1.67 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water12.4 g

Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[17] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[18]


In the early stages of plant growth, some sorghum species may contain levels of hydrogen cyanide, hordenine, and nitrates lethal to grazing animals.[19] Plants stressed by drought or heat can also contain toxic levels of cyanide and nitrates at later stages in growth.[20]


The grain is edible and nutritious. It can be eaten raw when young and milky, but has to be boiled or ground into flour when mature.[21]

Sorghum grain is 72% carbohydrates including 7% dietary fiber, 11% protein, 3% fat, and 12% water (table). In a reference amount of 100 grams (3.5 oz), sorghum grain supplies 79 calories and rich contents (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of several B vitamins and dietary minerals (table).


Sorghum cultivation has been linked by archeological research to ancient Sudan around 6,000 to 7,000 BP.[22] One species, S. bicolor,[23] native to Africa with many cultivated forms,[24] is a common crop worldwide, used for food (in the form of grain or sorghum syrup), animal fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, and biofuels.

In Nigeria, the pulverized red leaf-sheaths of sorghum have been used to dye leather, and in Algeria, sorghum has been used to dye wool.[25]


All sorghums contain mixed polyphenols, such as phenolic acids and flavonoids.[26] Sorghum grains are one of the highest food sources of proanthocyanidins.[27]


Most varieties of sorghum are drought- and heat-tolerant, nitrogen-efficient,[28] and are grown particularly in arid and semi-arid regions where the grain is one of the staples for poor and rural people. These varieties are forage in many tropical regions. S. bicolor is a food crop in Africa, Central America, and South Asia, and is the fifth most common cereal crop grown in the world.[29][30]

International trade

In 2013, China began purchasing US sorghum as a complementary livestock feed to domestically grown maize. It imported around $1 billion worth per year until April 2018, when it imposed retaliatory tariffs as part of the trade war.[31] By 2020, the tariffs have been waived, and trade volumes increased again[32] before declining again as China began buying sorghum from other countries.[33] As of 2020, China is the world's largest sorghum importer, importing more than all other countries combined.[32]


  1. ^ "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew". Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  2. ^ Hariprasanna, K.; Patil, J. V. (2015), Madhusudhana, R.; Rajendrakumar, P.; Patil, J.V. (eds.), "Sorghum: Origin, Classification, Biology and Improvement", Sorghum Molecular Breeding, New Delhi: Springer India, pp. 3–20, doi:10.1007/978-81-322-2422-8_1, ISBN 978-81-322-2421-1, retrieved 1 June 2023
  3. ^ "Sorghum". County-level distribution maps from the North American Plant Atlas (NAPA). Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2014. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Earliest Evidence of Domesticated Sorghum Discovered". Science News. 28 September 2017. Archived from the original on 9 February 2023. Retrieved 4 July 2023.
  5. ^ Welsby, Derek (2002). The Medieval Kingdoms of Nubia. Pagans, Christians and Muslims Along the Middle Nile. British Museum. ISBN 978-0-7141-1947-2.
  6. ^ "The Plant List: Sorghum". Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Missouri Botanic Garden. 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  7. ^ "Production of sorghum in 2021, Crops/Regions/World list/Production Quantity/Year (pick lists)". UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT). 2023. Retrieved 30 September 2023.
  8. ^ a b Guo, Minliang; Ye, Jingyang; Gao, Dawei; Xu, Nan; Yang, Jing (2019). "Agrobacterium-mediated horizontal gene transfer: Mechanism, biotechnological application, potential risk and forestalling strategy". Biotechnology Advances. 37 (1): 259–270. doi:10.1016/j.biotechadv.2018.12.008. eISSN 1873-1899. ISSN 0734-9750. PMID 30579929. S2CID 58600661.
  9. ^ Varshney, Rajeev; Bohra, Abhishek; Yu, Jianming; Graner, Andreas; Zhang, Qifa; Sorrells, Mark (2021). "Designing Future Crops: Genomics-Assisted Breeding Comes of Age". Trends in Plant Science. 26 (6): 631–649. doi:10.1016/j.tplants.2021.03.010. ISSN 1360-1385. PMID 33893045. S2CID 233382115.
  10. ^ Bekele, Wubishet; Wieckhorst, Silke; Friedt, Wolfgang; Snowdon, Rod (2013). "High-throughput genomics in sorghum: from whole-genome resequencing to a SNP screening array". Plant Biotechnology Journal. 11 (9): 1112–1125. doi:10.1111/pbi.12106. ISSN 1467-7644. PMID 23919585. S2CID 206248573.
  11. ^ Henry, Robert; Furtado, Agnelo; Brozynska, Marta (2016). "Genomics of crop wild relatives: expanding the gene pool for crop improvement". Plant Biotechnology Journal. 14 (4): 1070–85. doi:10.1111/pbi.12454. eISSN 1467-7652. ISSN 1467-7644. PMID 26311018. S2CID 3402991.
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  13. ^ Sally L Dillon; Peter K Lawrence; Robert J Henry; Larry Ross; H James Price; J Spencer Johnston (2004). "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 25 Sorghum species". Plant Systematics and Evolution. 249 (3–4): 233–246. doi:10.1007/s00606-004-0210-7. S2CID 27363366. Archived from the original on 13 August 2022. Retrieved 4 July 2023.
  14. ^ "Sorghum". Atlas of Living Australia. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  15. ^ "Tropicos, Sorghum Moench". Tropicos. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Flora of China Vol. 22 Page 600 高粱属 gao liang shu Sorghum Moench, Methodus. 207. 1794". Efloras. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
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  18. ^ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Food and Nutrition Board; Committee to Review the Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium (2019). Oria, Maria; Harrison, Meghan; Stallings, Virginia A. (eds.). Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US). ISBN 978-0-309-48834-1. PMID 30844154.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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Further reading