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 of Andropogoneae (the tribe of big bluestem and sugar cane).
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. When stressed by drought or heat, plants can also contain toxic levels of cyanide and/or nitrates at later stages in growth.
Sorghum vulgare var. technicum is commonly called broomcorn. An annual grass like other Sorghums, it grows 6 to 15 feet tall, although dwarf varieties are only 3 to 7 feet in height. The upper peduncle is normally 8 to 18 in long, topped by a branched inflorescence or panicle which originate the seed-bearing fibers. The fibers are usually 12 to 24 inches long but can be up to 36 inches long; they are branched toward the tip where the flowers and seed grow. The seeds weigh about 30,000/pound, 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 Dark 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)