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Sorghum halepense

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
SOR-gum ha-le-PEN-see
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Johnsongrass, is an erect, 2½ to 7 foot tall, coarse, herbaceous perennial grass. The plant prefers full sun, moist to mesic conditions, and fertile loamy soil. However, this robust grass is easy to grow in a wide range of soil types, tolerates drier locations and soil containing gravel or clay. Most growth occurs during the summer and episodes of hot dry weather are tolerated. This grass has a tendency to spread aggressively and is considered invasive in the southeast.  It can become weedy in disturbed areas of fields and roadsides. The root system is fibrous and long-rhizomatous and often forms clonal colonies from the rhizomes. This grass was introduced from the eastern Mediterranean area or the Middle East as a pasture grass in southeastern United States, and it has since spread across a large area of the United States. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:

This plant is listed as a noxious weed in 19 states. Sometimes this grass invades gardens and both the seeds and rhizomes can be transported and introduced into new areas by means of contaminated bags of topsoil.

 

Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#poisonous#weed#weedy#grass#tall grass#weedy grass#perennial weed
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#poisonous#weed#weedy#grass#tall grass#weedy grass#perennial weed
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sorghum
    Species:
    halepense
    Family:
    Poaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern Mediteranean and Middle East
    Distribution:
    throughout
    Edibility:
    Low toxicity if eaten.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Poisonous
    Weed
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Description:
    Seeds ripen September and October.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Size:
    > 6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Each panicle is up to 1½ feet long and less than one-half as much across; it is broader toward the bottom than the top and somewhat airy in appearance when it is fully open. Johnson Grass has a spreading panicle of florets with slender branches and branchlets. Inflorescence a panicle with branches tipped by a raceme. Panicle open; lanceolate, or pyramidal. Primary panicle branches whorled at most nodes; moderately divided.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Type:
    Sheath
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves occur primarily along the lower half of each stem. The leaf blades are up to 2½ feet long and 1¼ inches across; they are widely spreading, arching, or ascending. The upper blade surface is medium to dark green, while the lower blade surface is more pale; both are smooth. The larger leaf have prominent central veins that are pale-colored. The junctions of leaf blades and sheaths have narrow strips of fine white hairs.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    The stems are light green, terete, and glabrous. Each culm terminates in a panicle of spikelets.
  • Landscape:
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Causes low toxicity in humans if the leaves are eaten, which can occur if the plant is mixed with, or mistaken for, grain sorghum. There have been no known cases of human poisoning. The foliage that becomes wilted from frost or hot, dry weather can contain sufficient amounts of hydrogen cyanide to harm cattle and horses if it is eaten in quantity.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Cyanogenic glycoside
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Leaves