Please donate to support our ‘Plants to Save the Planet’ Project. The Project is directed at enabling designers of ‘carbon farms’ and ‘food forests’: agroecosystems of perennial plants, to choose the most appropriate plants for their requirements and site conditions. We are working on a subset of plants in the PFAF database identified as having the most potential for inclusion in such designs. We are adding search terms and icons to those plants pages, and providing a range of search options aligned to categories of plants and crop yields, with Help facilities including videos. More >>>

Follow Us:


Sorghum bicolor - (L.)Moench.

Common Name Sorghum, Common wild sorghum, Grain sorghum, Sudangrass
Family Poaceae or Gramineae
USDA hardiness 9-12
Known Hazards The immature plant is poisonous, especially if slightly wilted, since it can contain the toxins hydrogen cyanide and the alkaloid hordenine[4, 142, 269]. These substances are destroyed if the plant is dried or made into silage[269]. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
Habitats Not known in the wild.
Range Original habitat is obscure.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Sorghum bicolor Sorghum, Common wild sorghum, Grain sorghum, Sudangrass
Sorghum bicolor Sorghum, Common wild sorghum, Grain sorghum, Sudangrass


Translate this page:


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Sorghum bicolor is a ANNUAL growing to 5 m (16ft 5in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8. It is in flower from August to October, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


S. saccharatum. S. vulgare. Andropogon sorghum. Holcus bicolor. H. sorghum.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed  Stem
Edible Uses: Sweetener

Seed - raw or cooked. It is used as a whole grain in similar ways to rice or can be ground into a flour and made into bread etc[2, 4, 57, 162, 183]. The ground seed yields a particularly white flour[7]. Sorghum is a staple food in some regions, where it is often fermented (lactic acid fermentation) before being eaten[183]. The sprouted seed can be eaten raw, and is sometimes added to salads[183]. Sap - raw or cooked. Very sweet, it is made into a syrup[1, 2, 46, 57, 257]. Stems - cooked[105]. Some caution is advised here, there are some reports that the leaves can contain the poison cyanide[4].


Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Seed (Dry weight)
  • 342 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 12%
  • Protein: 10g; Fat: 3.7g; Carbohydrate: 72.7g; Fibre: 2.2g; Ash: 1.5g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 22mg; Phosphorus: 242mg; Iron: 3.8mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 8mg; Potassium: 44mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.33mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.18mg; Niacin: 3.9mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ 269]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Astringent  Demulcent  Diuretic  Haemostatic

The decoction of the seed is demulcent and diuretic[4]. It is used in the treatment of kidney and urinary complaints[4]. The inflorescence is astringent and haemostatic[7].


Our new book Edible Shrubs is now available.

Edible Shrubs provides detailed information, attractively presented, on over 70 shrub species. They have been selected to provide a mix of different plant sizes and growing conditions. Most provide delicious and nutritious fruit, but many also have edible leaves, seeds, flowers, stems or roots, or they yield edible or useful oil.

Read More

Edible Shrubs Book

Other Uses

Biomass  Broom  Weaving

The flowering panicles are used as brushes brooms and whisks etc[1, 2, 4, 46, 57]. Stems are used for weaving fences, mats, wattle houses etc[178]. The plant is an excellent source of biomass[269].

Special Uses


Cultivation details

A fairly easily grown plant, though it is on the edges of its climatic zone in Britain. It requires a warm, sheltered and sunny position[160], preferring a slightly to moderately acid soil[160, 269], though some cultivars have succeeded with a pH as high as 8[269]. Plants are adapted to a wide range of soils varying from light loams to heavy clays, they thrive best on light, easily worked soils of high fertility, with moderate to high availablility of water[269]. Moderately well-drained soils are suitable for sorghums[269]. Small amounts of alkali in sand reduces performance considerably[269]. Plants are moderatley tolerant of saline soils[269]. Established plants are very drought resistant, they succeed in arid soils[171]. A nitrogen rich soil causes the plants to lodge[160]. Plants are reported to tolerate an annual precipitation in the range of 20 to 410cm, an annual temperature in the range of 7.8 to 27.8°C and a pH of 4.3 to 8.7[269]. Sorghum is widely cultivated in tropical and warm temperate zones for its edible seed, as well as for its panicles (which are used as brooms) and the syrup obtained from its sap. Yields of around 6 tonnes per hectare have been achieved, though yields as low as 200 kilos have been reported - yields below 2 tonnes are not considered financially viable[269].There are many named varieties[4, 50, 61, 183]. Some cultivars are short-day plants and are unlikely to produce flowers and seed away from the tropical zone[269]. Plants are adapted to tropical and subtropical summer rainfall climates with rainfall from 25 - 125 cm annually, they are of little importance in more humid areas with higher rainfall[269]. It is grown in Britain as a tender bedding plant but requires a long hot summer if it is to ripen its seed here[200]. In warmer climates it takes 3 months from sowing to seed harvest[160].


Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

Shop Now


Seed - sow April in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks if given a minimum germination temperature of 23°c[160]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Consider giving them some protection, such as a cloche, until they are growing away strongly.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Amapemba, Bambaram-basso, Basse-bassi, Broomcorn, Buadoti, Cantel, Chidomba, Chipira, Dawa, Durra, Egyptian corn, Feterita, Forage sorghum, Gonkho, Grain sorghum, Great millet, Guinea corn, Hamo, Indian millet, Jagung catel, Jerusalem corn, Jowar, Kaffir-corn, Mapemba, Mapila, Midjo-cabal, Milho-cavalo, Milo, Namuve, Nhame-quinto, Pampas rice, Quinterim, Rice corn, Susu, bachanta, broom-corn, broomcorn, daza, durra, egyptian millet, feterita, forage sorghum, gao liang, gewöhnliche mohrenhirse, grain sorghum, great millet, gros mil, jowar, jowari, kaffir-corn, karal iringu, milo, morokoshi, nickende mohrenhirse, okababa, poroporo, shallu, shatter cane, sorgho, sorghum, sorgo, sudangrass, susu, sweet sor.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Arabia, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burma, Central Africa, Central African Republic, Central America, Chad, China, Congo DR, Congo, Cuba, East Africa, East Timor, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Guiana, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Korea, Laos, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, North Africa, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Uganda, United States, USA, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Virgin Islands, West Africa, West Indies, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Least Concern

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Sorghum halepenseJohnson GrassPerennial2.0 7-10 FLMHNDM313
Sorghum hybridsPerennial SorghumPerennial3.0 7-12 FLMHNDM413

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

EMMANUEL LAWRENCE AGI   Sat Nov 6 13:44:16 2004

Having been oportuned to comment on this site, I want to state that in Nigeria,this plant is used as a raw material in brewing alcoholic beverages (beer). So please add this to your uses of Sorghum bicolor. EMMANUEL LAWRENCE AGI.


Also in Nigeria the parnicle is been used as animal(livestock) feed. I want to know if the parnicle is also being use as animal feed in developed countries expecially the European Countries?

solomon tesfay   Wed Oct 15 2008

would you please! help me on my resarch "Screening of sorgum (sorghum bicolor)landraces based on water deficit tolerance.

Amanda Rofe   Wed Oct 22 2008

I grew sorghum vulgare in a sheltered sunny spot in my garden in Kent in 2006. It grew easily and rapidly and the seed ripened OK. It needs to be treated much like sweetcorn if you want to grow it in the UK. I don't really understand why we don't grow it more, particularly in the south of England. I've saved some seed and will try it again. I obtained my seeds from Chiltern Seeds in Ulverston, Cumbria and I believe they are still selling them.

Emmanuel Uti   Sat Sep 12 2009

Sir, I want Sorghum Bicolor seeds.I am in Nigeria I wish to plant the seeds in Nigeria,so any person who wishes to conact me.+2348035418285

QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.

2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.

3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the website on their phone.

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Sorghum bicolor  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some information cannot be used for commercial reasons or be modified (but some can). Please view the copyright link for more information.
Web Design & Management