Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench

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Common names:
Annual. Culms erect; robust; 100-600 cm long; 50-300 mm diam. Culm-nodes glabrous. Leaves cauline. Ligule an eciliate membrane; 1-3 mm long. Leaf-blade base broadly rounded. Leaf-blades 30-100 cm long; 5-10 mm wide. Inflorescence a panicle with branches tipped by a raceme. Peduncle straight, or deflexed. Panicle open, or contracted; lanceolate, or ovate, or globose; equilateral, or nodding; 4-50 cm long; 2-20 cm wide. Primary panicle branches appressed, or spreading; not whorled; moderately divided. Panicle branches pubescent, or villous. Racemes bearing few fertile spikelets; 1-6 fertile spikelets on each. Rhachis tough; ciliate on margins. Rhachis internodes filiform, or linear; 0.5-5 mm long. Rhachis internode tip transverse. Spikelets in pairs. Fertile spikelets sessile; 1 in the cluster. Companion sterile spikelets pedicelled; 1 in the cluster. Pedicels filiform; ciliate. Companion sterile spikelets well-developed; male; lanceolate; as long as fertile; separately deciduous. Companion sterile spikelet glumes herbaceous; muticous. Companion sterile spikelet lemmas enclosed by glumes. Spikelets comprising 1 basal sterile florets; 1 fertile florets; without rhachilla extension. Spikelets oblong, or ovate, or obovate, or orbicular; dorsally compressed; 3-10 mm long; persistent on plant. Spikelet callus glabrous, or pilose; base obtuse. Glumes dissimilar; with lower wider than upper; exceeding apex of florets; firmer than fertile lemma; parallel to lemmas, or gaping. Lower glume ovate; 1 length of spikelet; chartaceous, or coriaceous; pallid, or red, or black; 2-keeled; keeled above. Lower glume surface glabrous, or pilose. Lower glume apex obtuse, or acute. Upper glume ovate; chartaceous, or coriaceous; 1-keeled; keeled above; 5-7 -veined. Upper glume surface glabrous, or pubescent. Upper glume margins ciliate. Upper glume apex entire, or dentate; 2 -fid. Basal sterile florets barren; without significant palea. Lemma of lower sterile floret elliptic; 0.8 length of spikelet; hyaline; 2-5 -veined; ciliolate on margins. Fertile lemma obovate; 1-3 mm long; hyaline; 1-3 -veined. Lemma margins ciliate. Lemma apex entire, or dentate; 2 -fid; muticous, or awned; 1 -awned. Principal lemma awn from a sinus; geniculate; with twisted column. Column of lemma awn pubescent; hairy on the spiral. Palea present. Lodicules 2; ciliate. Caryopsis exposed between gaping lemma and palea at maturity.
Derivation of specific name: bicolor: 2-coloured
Altitude range: (metres)
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: comprises all the grain sorghums, some of which are cultivated in the Flora Zambesiaca area, especially in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Zimbabwe distribution: N
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species: Cnaphalocrocis trapezalis (Larval foodplant)
Mocis proverai (Larval food plant)
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 110.

Siebert, S. & Mössmer, M. (Editors) (2002). SABONET Southern Mozambique Expedition 2001; Provisional Plant Checklist of the Maputo Elephant Reserve (MER) and Licuati Forest Reserve (LFR) SABONET News 7(1) Page 28.

Other sources of information about Sorghum bicolor:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Sorghum bicolor
Flora of Mozambique: cultivated Sorghum bicolor
Flora of Zambia: cultivated Sorghum bicolor
Flora of Zimbabwe: cultivated Sorghum bicolor

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Sorghum bicolor
African Plant Database: Sorghum bicolor
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Sorghum bicolor
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Sorghum bicolor
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Sorghum bicolor
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Sorghum bicolor
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Sorghum bicolor
JSTOR Plant Science: Sorghum bicolor
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Sorghum bicolor
Plants of the World Online: Sorghum bicolor
Tropicos: Sorghum bicolor
Wikipedia: Sorghum bicolor

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Sorghum bicolor., retrieved 14 April 2024

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