Plant Name        Sorghum bicolor              

                Common name:     Jowar, Sudan Grass      

                Marathi:                  Jowari               

                Hindi:                     Jowar     

                English:                 common sorghum; grain sorghum; great millet; Guinea                                                  corn; shattercane; sorghum (common)               



Interesting facts and history

A staple food in the hot, dry tropics, sorghum is the fifth most commonly grown cereal in the world. It has a very long history of being utilised by humans, dating back to at least 1,000 BC. It is widely cultivated in tropical and warm temperate zones for its edible seed, as well as for its panicles (which are used as brooms) and the syrup obtained from its sap.       


Identification guide


Sorghum is a vigorous, erect, annual grass with one to many tillers. A very variable plant, it can grow up to 5 metres tall.




Leaf-blade base broadly rounded. Leaf-blades 30-100 cm long; 5-10 mm wide.


Lodicules 2; ciliate.


Caryopsis exposed between gaping lemma and palea at maturity.


Habit / Habitat

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.            



Europe: central, southwestern, southeastern, and eastern. Africa: north, Macaronesia, west tropical, west-central tropical, northeast tropical, east tropical, southern tropical, south, and western Indian ocean. Asia-temperate: Siberia, Soviet far east, Soviet Middle Asia, Caucasus, western Asia, Arabia, China, Mongolia, and eastern Asia. Asia-tropical: India, Indo-China, Malesia, and Papuasia. Australasia: Australia and New Zealand. Pacific: southwestern, south-central, northwestern, and north-central. North America: northwest USA, north-central USA, northeast USA, southwest USA, south-central USA, southeast USA, and Mexico. South America: Mesoamericana, Caribbean, northern South America, western South America, Brazil, and southern South America.       


Edible parts

World wide use:                                      Grains

Used by tribal community in Jawhar:     Grains                  

Method of consumption

Jawhar tribal     

Powdered to make bread

Other Recipe

  1. Jowar Apple Crumble

Bringing a healthy spin to the much-loved apple crumble, this recipe uses jowar to create a delightful treat. Load it up with nuts for that extra crunch.

How to Make Jowar Apple Crumble:

Pre-heat the oven at 100 degree C. Grease a 6-inch baking tray with a little oil and keep it aside.Peal and core the apple. Cut it into thin and even slices, add melted butter and sugar, and coat well. Arrange the slices neatly at the base of the baking tray. Keep aside. In a mixing bowl, sift jowar flour and oats. Add the cold butter cubes and rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.  Add the chopped walnuts, cinnamon powder and sugar. Mix well. Sprinkle it over the apple base and fill up the baking tin. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 150 degree C, or until the crumble layer is crisp and you can see the juice from the apple slices bubbling at the sides.Serve warm with a scoop of fresh cream or ice cream.


  1. Jowar Banana Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce

A wholesome jowar cake made with banana, and slathered with decadent salted caramel sauce for a sinful treat. You could also use chocolate sauce and throw in some nuts if you like.

How to Make Jowar Banana Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce

Pre-heat the oven at 100 degree C. Grease a 6-inch baking tray with a little oil and line with a butter paper. Keep aside. Melt butter in a double boiler and let it cool. Peel and mash the banana in a mixing bowl. Add melted butter to it and whisk well. Add the sugar, little at a time, and continue whisking. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until light and fluffy. Add to the banana mixture and mix well. Sift together the jowar flour, wheat flour, cinnamon powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add it, one teaspoon at a time, to the banana and egg mixture. Fold carefully to acquire an even mixture without any lumps. Add the milk to make a smooth batter. It should not be too thick or too runny. Bake in the oven at 150 degree C for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted at the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let it cool For the Salted Caramel Sauce In a mixing bowl, whip the cream and butter until light and keep it aside. Place the sugar in a large pan over low heat and allow it to melt. You can shake the pan slightly from time to time to evenly melt the sugar. After 4-5 minutes, the sugar will start acquiring a brown colour. Keep a strict watch because it happens rather rapidly. Once it turns an amber brown colour, remove from the flame and carefully add in the cream and butter mixture. Stir well so that the ingredients combine together and return to the flame. Stirring continuously, let the mixture thicken to a sauce-like consistency. Add in the salt and stir again to mix well. Remove from the flame and let it cool. To Serve Slice the banana cake and serve warm topped with salted caramel sauce.

Seed - raw or cooked. It is used as a whole grain in similar ways to rice, it can be popped much like popcorn, or can be ground into a flour and made into bread etc. The ground seed yields a particularly white flour. Sorghum is a staple food in some regions, where it is often fermented (lactic acid fermentation) before being eaten. The sprouted seed can be eaten raw, and is sometimes added to salads. The seed is germinated, then dried and ground into a powder to form malt, which is used as a substratum for fermentation in local beer production.


Stems - cooked. Some caution is advised here, there are some reports that the leaves can contain the poison cyanide.

The stems of sweet sorghum types are chewed like sugar cane and, mainly in the United States, a sweet syrup is pressed from them.

Sap - raw or cooked. Very sweet, it is made into a syrup


Nutritional and medicinal information 

Sorghum is of a lower feed quality than corn (maize). It is high in carbohydrates, with 10 percent protein and 3.4 percent fat, and contains calcium and small amounts of iron, vitamin B1, and niacin. For human consumption, the gluten-free grain is usually ground into a meal that is made into porridge, flatbreads, and cakes. The characteristic strong flavor can be reduced by processing. The grain is also used in making edible oil, starch, dextrose (a sugar), paste, and alcoholic beverages. The stalks are used as fodder and building materials. Sweet sorghums, or sorgos, are grown mainly in the United States and southern Africa for forage and for syrup manufacture and are sometimes used in the production of ethyl alcohol for biofuel.

The decoction of the seed is demulcent and diuretic. It is used in the treatment of kidney and urinary complaints.

The inflorescence is astringent and haemostatic. The leaves and panicles are included in plant mixtures for decoctions used in the treatment of anaemia.

Decoctions of the twigs, combined with lemon, is used as a treatment against jaundice.

The red pigment is said to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It is used as a treatment for anaemia.


Harvesting and preserving

Sorghum is a plant of the tropics and subtropics, where it is found main in semi-arid areas and at elevations up to 2,500 meters. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 35°c, but can tolerate 8 - 40°c.It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 400 - 600mm, but tolerates 300 - 700mm.

A fairly easily grown plant, requiring a warm, sheltered and sunny position, preferring a slightly to moderately acid soil, though some cultivars have succeeded with a pH as high as 8. Plants are adapted to a wide range of soils varying from light loams to heavy clays, they thrive best on light, easily worked soils of high fertility, with moderate to high availability of water. Moderately well-drained soils are suitable for sorghums. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7.5, tolerating 5 - 8. Small amounts of alkali in sand reduces performance considerably. Plants are moderately tolerant of saline soils. Established plants are very drought resistant, they succeed in arid soils. A nitrogen rich soil causes the plants to lodge"         


Propagation and Storage

Seed - sow in situ and only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks if given a minimum germination temperature of 23°c

Yields of around 6 tonnes per hectare have been achieved, though yields as low as 200 kilos have been reported - yields below 2 tonnes are not considered financially viable.

There are many named varieties.

There is a multiplicity of forms of cultivated sorghum, derived by human selection and all fully interfertile. Some forms have sweet culms. Many species names have been proposed in the past in an attempt to categorize this variation, but they represent no more than intergrading cultivars within the common species pool.

Some cultivars are short-day plants and are unlikely to produce flowers and seed away from the tropical zone.


Other uses

  1. The flowering panicles, especially of cultivars specially bred for the purpose, are used as brushes, brooms, whisks etc.
  2. Several non-edible sorghum cultivars are exclusively grown for the red pigment present in the leaf sheaths and sometimes also in adjacent stem parts. It is used as a dye for mats, textiles, strips of palm leaves and grasses used in basketry and weaving, ornamental calabashes, wool, as a body paint and to colour cheese and lickstones for cattle.
  3. A similar dye can be extracted from the grain refuse (glumes and grain wall) of several red sorghum cultivars grown for food or for beer-making. The red sorghum dyes were traditionally used as a funeral hanging, decorated with patterns made by thick threads added to the weft of the fabric. The fabrics in which the dominant colours were derived from sorghum were known as ‘ifala’. Sorghum is also used to provide the violet colours decorating the masks worn during certain dances. Sorghum and other tannin-rich dyes are used in combination with mud to create the patterns of the painted cloths produced in the Korhogo region.
  4. The dye was extracted by squeezing out the juice, which was then fermented. Used with wool or silk mordanted with tin or chrome, the result was a colourfast red-brown. Recently the use of sorghum dye in hair dying products has been patented.
  5. Sorghum flour is used to produce an adhesive that is used in the manufacture of plywood.
  6. Stems are used for weaving fences, mats, wattle houses etc. Sorghum plant residues are used extensively as material for roofing, fencing, weaving and as fuel.
  7. The plant is an excellent source of biomass. The stems can be used for the production of fibre board. Danish scientists have made good panelling using stem chips of sorghum."



Kingdom:              Plantae

Division:              Spermatophyta

Sub-division:       Angiospermae

Class:                    Monocotyledonae

Series:                  Glumaceae

Family:                  Graminae

Genus:                  Sorghum

 Species:               bicolor



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