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Vascular Plants of California
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Sorghum halepense

Higher Taxonomy
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)View DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to woody perennial herb; roots generally fibrous. Stem: generally round, hollow; nodes swollen, solid. Leaf: alternate, 2-ranked, generally linear, parallel-veined; sheath generally open; ligule membranous or hairy, at blade base. Inflorescence: various (of generally many spikelets). Spikelet: glumes generally 2; florets (lemma, palea, flower) 1--many; lemma generally membranous, sometimes glume-like; palea generally +- transparent, +- enclosed by lemma. Flower: generally bisexual, minute; perianth vestigial; stamens generally 3; stigmas generally 2, generally plumose. Fruit: grain, sometimes achene- or utricle-like.
Genera In Family: 650--900 genera; +- 10550 species: worldwide; greatest economic importance of any family (wheat, rice, maize, millet, sorghum, sugar cane, forage crops, ornamental, weeds; thatching, weaving, building materials). Note: Generally wind-pollinated. Achnatherum, Ampelodesmos, Hesperostipa, Nassella, Piptatherum, Piptochaetium, Ptilagrostis moved to Stipa; Elytrigia, Leymus, Pascopyrum, Pseudoroegneria, Taeniatherum to Elymus; Hierochloe to Anthoxanthum; Lolium, Vulpia to Festuca; Lycurus to Muhlenbergia; Monanthochloe to Distichlis; Pleuraphis to Hilaria; Rhynchelytrum to Melinis. The following taxa (in genera not included here), recorded in California from historical collections or reported in literature, are extirpated, lacking vouchers, or not considered naturalized: Acrachne racemosa (Roth) Ohwi, Allolepis texana (Vasey) Soderstr. & H.F. Decker, Amphibromus nervosus (Hook. f.) Baill., Axonopus affinis Chase, Axonopus fissifolius (Raddi) Kuhlm., Coix lacryma-jobi L., Cutandia memphitica (Spreng.) K. Richt., Dinebra retroflexa (Vahl) Panz., Eremochloa ciliaris (L.) Merr., Eustachys distichophylla (Lag.) Nees, Gaudinia fragilis (L.) P. Beauv., Miscanthus sinensis Andersson, Neyraudia arundinacea (L.) Henrard, Phyllostachys aurea Rivière & C. Rivière, Phyllostachys bambusoides Siebold & Zuccarini, Rottboellia cochinchinensis (Lour.) Clayton, Schedonnardus paniculatus (Nutt.) Branner & Coville, Schizachyrium cirratum (Hack.) Wooton & Standl., Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash, Themeda quadrivalvis (L.) Kuntze, Thysanolaena latifolia (Hornem.) Honda, Tribolium obliterum (Hemsl.) Renvoize, Zea mays L., Zizania palustris L. var. interior (Fassett) Dore, Zoysia japonica Steud. Paspalum pubiflorum E. Fourn., Paspalum quadrifarium Lam., are now reported for southern California (J Bot Res Inst Texas 4:761--770). See Glossary p. 30 for illustrations of general family characteristics.
eFlora Treatment Author: James P. Smith, Jr., except as noted
Scientific Editor: James P. Smith, Jr., J. Travis Columbus, Dieter H. Wilken.
Genus: SorghumView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Annual, perennial herb, cespitose or rhizomed. Stem: erect; internodes generally solid. Leaf: cauline; ligule membranous; blade flat or folded. Inflorescence: panicle-like, open to compact. Spikelet: in 2s (3s at branch tips); sessile spikelet bisexual, lower glume leathery, shiny, glabrous to puberulent, florets 2, lower sterile, upper fertile, lemma membranous, fertile lemma generally awned, palea < lemma; stalked spikelets 1--2, staminate; pair with subtending axis segment breaking as a unit.
Etymology: (Latin: sorgo, a grain from Syria)
eFlora Treatment Author: Elizabeth M. Skendzic
Unabridged Reference: de Wet 1978 Amer J Bot 65:477--484
Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers.
Stem: erect, 0.5--2 m. Leaf: ligule 2--6 mm, blade 5--90 cm, 0.5--4 cm wide. Inflorescence: 1--5 dm, 5--25 cm wide, generally open; branches spreading to ascending. Spikelet: sessile 4--6.5 mm; lemma 4--5 mm, awn 5--13 mm or 0; stalked 3.6--5.6 mm, awn 0. Chromosomes: 2n=20,40.
Ecology: Disturbed areas, ditch banks, roadsides; Elevation: < 1160 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, CaRF, SNF, GV, CW, SW, D; Distribution Outside California: widespread in United States; native to Mediterranean. Flowering Time: May--Aug
Jepson eFlora Author: Elizabeth M. Skendzic
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Noxious Weed listed on the CDFA Weed Pest Ratings table
View the CDFA Pest Rating page for Sorghum halepense
Weed listed by Cal-IPC

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Botanical illustration including Sorghum halepense

botanical illustration including Sorghum halepense

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Citation for this treatment: Elizabeth M. Skendzic 2012, Sorghum halepense, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on March 03, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on March 03, 2024.

Sorghum halepense
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©2014 Neal Kramer
Sorghum halepense
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©2011 Barry Breckling
Sorghum halepense
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©2011 Steve Matson
Sorghum halepense
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©2014 Neal Kramer
Sorghum halepense
click for enlargement
©2011 Steve Matson

More photos of Sorghum halepense
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Geographic subdivisions for Sorghum halepense:
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).