Sorghum is a genus of flowering plants in the grass family Poaceae, which includes about 25 species. Some of these species have grown as cereals for human consumption and some in pastures for animals. One species, Sorghum bicolor, was originally domesticated in Africa and has since spread throughout the globe. Seventeen of the 25 species are native to Australia, with the range of some extending to Africa, Asia, Mesoamerica, and certain islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. One species is grown for grain, while many others are used as fodder plants, either cultivated in warm climates worldwide or naturalized in pasture lands. Sorghum is in the subfamily Panicoideae and the tribe Andropogoneae.

Cultivation and uses

One species, Sorghum bicolor, native to Africa with many cultivated forms now, is an important crop worldwide, used for food, animal fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, and biofuels. Most varieties are drought- and heat-tolerant, and are especially important in arid regions, where the grain is one of the staples for poor and rural people. These varieties form important components of forage in many tropical regions. S. bicolor is an important food crop in Africa, Central America, and South Asia, and is the fifth-most important cereal crop grown in the world.
In the early stages of the plants' growth, some species of sorghum can contain levels of hydrogen cyanide, hordenine, and nitrates which are lethal to grazing animals. When stressed by drought or heat, plants can also contain toxic levels of cyanide and nitrates at later stages in growth.

Role in global economy

Global demand for sorghum increased dramatically between 2013 and 2015 when China began purchasing US sorghum crops to use as livestock feed as a substitute for domestically grown corn. China purchased around $1 billion worth of American sorghum per year until April 2018 when China imposed retaliatory duties on American sorghum as part of the trade war between the two countries.


;Accepted species
;Formerly included
Many species once considered part of Sorghum, but now considered better suited to other genera include: Andropogon, Arthraxon, Bothriochloa, Chrysopogon, Cymbopogon, Danthoniopsis, Dichanthium, Diectomis, Diheteropogon, Exotheca, Hyparrhenia, Hyperthelia, Monocymbium, Parahyparrhenia, Pentameris, Pseudosorghum, Schizachyrium, and Sorghastrum.