grain_icon  Species |  Rice |  Maize |  Wheat |  Barley |  Oats |  Foxtail Millet |  Pearl Millet |  Rye |  Sorghum |  Wild Rice |  Brachypodium |  Oryza Species |  Grape |  Arabidopsis

Sorghum Anatomy

grain_icon Sorghum Intro |  Facts |  Anatomy |  Taxonomy |  Agronomic Statistics |  Research |  Education |  Nutrition |  Recipes |  News |  Germplasm Resources |  Gramene Statistics |  Gramene Queries |  Genome Browser

Sorghum Anatomy

Grain sorghum is an annual grass similar in appearance to maize (corn), although it has more tillers (stems) and more finely branched roots (2, 3, 10). If the main panicle is damaged, branches can produce grain (2).

Wild sorghum is a tall plant of 5-7 feet. Through breeding efforts newer varieties now have 2-3 dwarf genes, resulting in a plant 2-4 feet tall and easier to harvest (1, 2, 3, 10). Waxy leaves that roll when moisture stressed help the plant to be more drought resistant than other grains (3, 10).

On the panicle the spikelets are in pairs and bear white, yellow and brown grains. The browner seeds are higher in tannins (2).

A. Grain Head     B. Leaves    C. Stalk
D. Flower     E. Roots    F. Seed

Image and labels courtesy Nebraska Ag in the Classroom

Other links of interest on Sorghum anatomy:


  1. Animal Feed Resources Information System (AFRIS). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, "Sorghum bicolor" (Accessed May 18,2006).
  2. Carter, P.R.; Hicks, D.R.; Oplinger, E.S.; Doll, J.D.; Bundy, L.G.; Schuler, R.T.; and Holmes, B.J. 1989. "Grain Sorghum (Milo)." Alternative Field Crops Manual., (Accessed May 18,2006).
  3. Crop Plant Resources. August 24, 2000. "Sorghum: Sorghum bicolor." (Accessed May 18,2006).
  4. FAOSTAT data, 2005
  5. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). 2006. Retrieved May 18, 2006, from the Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database,
  6. Maunder, B. 2006. "SORGHUM: The Global Grain of the Future", from National Sorghum Producers. 2006. What is Sorghum?, (Accessed May 18,2006).
  7. National Sorghum Producers. 2006. What is Sorghum?, (Accessed May 18,2006).
  8. US Grains Council. 2006 "Sorghum" (Accessed May 18,2006).
  9. USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database, 6 March 2006 ( Data compiled from various sources by Mark W. Skinner. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
  10. Wikipedia contributors (2006). Sorghum. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 18, 2006 from