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Taiwan Gramineae | Family List | Poaceae

Sorghum Moench, Methodus. 207. 1794.
[nom. cons., non Sorgum Adanson 1763]


Sorghum halepense

Credit: CS Kuoh

Annuals or perennials; culms solid. Ligule either membranous and entire, or consisting of a fringe of hairs; leaf blades conduplicate in bud, afterwards flat, midnerve broad. Inflorescence an erect or nodding, open or contracted (in cultivated forms) panicle. Spikelets in alternate pairs, the uppermost pair forming a triad with a terminal spikelet, one spikelet of each pair sessile and the other pedicelled; spikelets dorsiventrally arranged. Sessile spikelets dorsally compressed, elliptic-oblong to ovate, coriaceous, falling off at maturity with adjacent rachis- joint and pedicel; glumes coriaceous at maturity, rarely remaining herbaceous, muticous; lower glume as long as spikelet, broad, flat or convex, margins incurved but in the upper part narrowly inflexed, long-hairy in lower half, in older spikelets usually hard and glossy, apex herbaceous or membranous; upper glume as long as spikelet, trongly convex with narrowed apex; lower lemma somewhat shorter, thin membranous, 2-nerved, or nerveless, the margins finely ciliate; lower palea wanting; upper lemma thin membranous, entire and muticous or 2-lobed, with a longer or shorter, usually geniculate awn from the sinus; lodicules 2, broadly cuneate, the apex truncate-emarginate and long hairy on the upper edges; stamens 3; ovary glabrous, the styles 2, free, the stigmas plumose, exserted laterally. Caryopsis free, inside palea and bracts, but in some cultivated forms much swollen and protruding, oblong or obovate, usually dorsally compressed; embryo half as long as the caryopsis.

Only one species is native to Taiwan, but there are several cultivated species. About 60 species distributed in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Sorghum bicolor, Millet or Guinea-corn, is largely cultivated as a cereal. The culms of the var. saccharatum, are sometimes used as a source of sugar.


1 Sheath-node densely bearded; primary branches of the panicle simple   (2)
+ Sheath-node not densely bearded; primary branches at least once divided   (3)
2 (1) Spikelets awnless   Sorghum nitidum f. nitidum
+ Spiketets long awned   Sorghum nitidum f. aristatum
3 (1) Perennials with distinct elongate rhizomes   (4)
+ Annuals or tufted perennials, without rhizomes; caryopsis not exposed; lower glume of lower spikelets nerveless except at the tip   Sorghum bicolor
4 (3) Lower spikelets more or less obtuse, elliptical; glumes coriaceous; lower glume with the keels ending in 3 distinct but minute teeth, subhyaline at tip; panicle contracted after flowering, 5 cm wide, lower branches 5-8 cm long; blades 0.5-2 cm wide   Sorghum halepense
+ Lower spikelets abruptly acute with a fine short point; glumes subcoriaceous with somewhat papery tips; lower glume with keels ending without teech or with obscure teeth; panicle large, lower branches 15-20 cm long blades 3-5 cm wide   Sorghum propinquum

Lower Taxa


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Flora of China  
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