Back to Biodiversity Explorer main pageGo to Iziko Museums of Cape Town home pageAbout Biodiversity Explorer - history, goals, etc.Send us your questions about southern African biodiversityPeople who have contributed content and images.Search Biodiversity Explorer

Genus: Sorghum (Sorghum genus)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Monocotyledons > Order: Poales > Family: Poaceae

There are about 24 species worldwide (tropics and subtropics of the Old World) of which two are native to southern Africa and one is naturalised. Sorghum bicolor (Sorghum) is an important African crop and the species in its wild form is native to southern Africa. Five additional species are cultivated in southern Africa.

Species native to southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI) and Flora of Zimbabwe.

Sorghum bicolor (Sorghum)

[= Sorghum arundinaceum]


Sorghum versicolor


Species naturalised in southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).

Sorghum halepense (Johnson grass, Aleppo grass, Johnsongras)

Native to the Mediterranean region. A problem weed in cultivated lands. Its system of rhizomes makes it difficult to eradicate. It is a declared Category 2 invasive plant in South Africa.


Other species, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002).

Sorghum caffrorum


Sorghum caudatum


Sorghum dochna


Sorghum mellitum


Sorghum membranaceum



  • Fish, L. 2003. Poaceae. In Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds), Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14: 1152-1194. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria. 


Contact us if you can contribute information or images to improve this page.

Biodiversity Explorer home   Iziko home   Search