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.Sorghum is in the subfamily Panicoideae and the tribe Andropogoneae (the tribe of big bluestem and sugarcane).
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.
S. vulgare var. technicum is commonly called broomcorn. 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.
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.
^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 Evolution57 (2): 243–253. doi:10.1007/s10722-009-9466-7.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help);|accessdate= requires |url= (help)