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Family Poaceae
Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers.
Shi mao

Scientific names Common names
Andropogon avenaceus Kunth         Aroro (Bikol)
Andropogon crupina (Link) Kunth         Baku (Ifugao)
Andropogon decolorans (Willd.) Kunth         Batad-batadan (Tagalog)
Andropogon dubitatus Steud.         Ngigai (Tagalog)
Andropogon dubius K.Koch ex B.D.Jacks         Aleppo grass (Engl.)
Andropogon halepensis (L.) Brot.         Aleppo millet grass (Engl.)
Andropogon halepensis subsp. anatherus Piper.         Alwyn grass (Engl.)
Andropogon halepensis var. effusus Stapf         Evergreen millet (Engl.)
Andropogon halepensis var. muticus (Hack.) Asch. & Graebn.         Johnson grass (Engl.)
Andropogon miliaceus Roxb.          
Andropogon miliformis Schult.          
Andropogon sorghum subsp. exiguus (Forssk.) Piper          
Andropogon sorghum subvar. genuinus Hack.          
Andropogon sorghum subsp. halepense (L.) Hack.          
Andropogon sorghum var. halepensis (L.) Hack.          
Andropogon sorghum subsp. halepensis (L.) Hack.          
Andropogon sorghum subvar. leiocladus Hack.          
Andropogon sorghum subvar. muticus Hack.          
Andropogon sorghum var. perennis Bertoni          
Andropogon sorghum subvar. trachycladus Hack.          
Andropogon tumbackianus Roxb. ex Kunth          
Blumenbachia halepensis (L.) Koeler          
Holcus decolorans Willd.          
Holcus exiguus Forssk.          
Holcus halepensis L.          
Milium halepense (L.) Cav.          
Rhaphis halepensis (L.) Roberty         
Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers.          
Sorghum halepense var. aristatum Goiran    
Sorghum halepense var. coloratum Goiran    
Sorghum halepense var. crupina (Link) Steud.    
Sorghum halepense var. genuinum Hack.    
Sorghum halepense var. lasiostachyum Goiran    
Sorghum halepense var. latifolium Willk.    
Sorghum halepense var. majus Goiran    
Sorghum halepense var. minus Goiran    
Sorghum halepense f. muticum (Hack.) C.E.Hubb.    
Sorghum halepense var. muticum (Hack.) Grossh.    
Sorghum halepense var. schreberi (Ten.) Nyman    
Sorghum halepense subvar. submuticum Rendle    
Sorghum miliaceum (Roxb.) Snowden    
Sorghum miliaceum var. parviscpiculum Snowden    
Sorghum sacharatum var. halepense (L.) Kuntze    
Sorghum schreberi Ten.          
Trachypogon avenaceus Nees.  
Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers. is an accepted species. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Shi mao.
FRENCH: Herbe d'Alep, Herbe de Cuba, Sorgho, Sorgho d'Alep.
PALAUAN: Mbangarnuis.
SPANISH: Cañota, Grama china, Hierba Johnson, Milloca, Pasto Johnson, Sorgo de Aleppo, Sorgo maleza, Zacate Johnson.
URDU: Jangli jawar.
WEST BENGAL:  Kala-mucha, Dig-dana, Digu-ghas

Gen info
- Sorghum or broomcorn is a genus of about 25 species of flowering plants in the grass family (Poaceae). Some species are grown as cereals for human consumption, as pasture fodder, and as bristles for brooms. (5)
- Sorghum halepense, Johnson grass, is a plant in the grass family, Poaceae, native to Asia and northern Africa. The plant has been introduced to all continents except Antarctica and most larger islands and archipelagos.

- The common name "Johnson grass" is named after Alabama plantation owner, Colonel William Johnson, who sowed its seeds on the river-bottom farm land circa 1840. (3)

• Perennial with vigorous spreading rhizomes. Culms 0.5–1.5 m tall, 4–6 mm in diam.; nodes puberulous. Leaf sheaths glabrous; leaf blades linear or linear-lanceolate, 25–80 × 1–4 cm, glabrous; ligule 0.5–1 mm, glabrous. Panicle lanceolate to pyramidal in outline, 20–40 cm, soft white hairs in basal axil; primary branches solitary or whorled, spreading, lower part bare, upper part branched, the secondary branches tipped by racemes; racemes fragile, composed of 2–5 spikelet pairs. Sessile spikelet elliptic, 4–5 mm; callus obtuse, bearded; lower glume subleathery, often pale yellow or yellowish brown at maturity, shortly pubescent or glabrescent, 5–7-veined, veins distinct in upper part, apex 3-denticulate; upper lemma acute and mucronate or 2-lobed and awned; awn 1–1.6 cm. Pedicelled spikelet staminate, narrowly lanceolate, 4.5–7 mm, often violet-purple. (Flora of China)

- Introduced.
- Invasive.
- Native to Afghanistan, Algeria, Canary Is., Cape Verde, Chad, Cyprus, East Aegean Is., Egypt, Gulf States, Himalaya, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon-Syria, Libya, Madeira, Morocco, Myanmar, Nicobar Is., North Caucasus, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tadzhikistan, Thailand, Transcaucasus, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam. (1)

- An invasive and tenacious weed that thrives in disturbed soils. Its prolific seed production, extensive rhizome system, sprouting ability of fragmented rhizomes, and ability to grow in a wide range of environments make Johnson grass difficult to control. (4)
- Johnson grass produce pollen which often induces hay fever, asthma, conjunctivitis in sensitized individuals. (6)
(see study 11)
- Studies have suggested cytotoxicity, antioxidant, antidiabetic, hypotensive, vascular relaxant, allergenic, analgesic properties.

- Phytochemical investigation of methanolic extract and fractions of rhizomes yielded alkaloids, cardiac glycosides, flavonoids. terpenes, steroids, carbohydrate and proteins, with absence of saponins and gums. (see study below) (8)
- Study of ethanolic extract of roots yielded alkaloids, glycosides, flavonoids, reducing sugars, steroids, and tannins, with absence of saponins and gums. (see study below) (13)

- Sorghum can yield a cyanogenic glycoside that can produce hydrogen cyanine (HCN) during stress or if damaged by frost or mastication. It can accumulate toxic levels of nitrates.

Parts used
Rhizomes, roots, seeds.


- Seeds are edible, raw or cooked.  It can be used whole like rice or millet, or ground into a flour and used as cereal in making bread, cakes, etc. (11)
- In West Bengal, root juice mixed with Pachai (rice beer) to increase its potency.
- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In Pakistan, roots decoction, powdered seeds, and stem juice used for treatment of indigestion, cough, and boils, and as demulcent. (14)  Grain decoction used as diuretic. (15)
- In
West Bengal, roots juice mixed  long pepper paste given for treatment of gonorrhea. Santals use root juice mixed with pinch of table salt given as tonic in fever. The Rabhas use boiled grains to treat dysentery. (16)
- Agroforestry: Used for erosion control.

- Forage:  Used as animal feed. Has been used for forage, but the foliage that becomes wilted by weather can contain sufficient amounts of hydrogen cyanide that can kill horses and cattle if eaten in quantity. (3)
- Biomass:  A potential source of biomass with yields up to 19 tonnes per hectare.  (11)
- Fuel:  Potential for production of ethanol from biomass.

Antidiabetic / Antioxidant / Rhizome:
Study evaluated the invitro phytochemical, cytotoxic, total phenolic, antioxidant, and antidiabetic activities of methanolic extract of rhizome of S. halepense. Methanol extract showed highest brine shrimp lethality was 709.5, total phenolic content (28.30 GAE/g), free radicals scavenging potential by DPPH (40.02%), ABTS (40.48%), and H2O2 (50.85%), and α-amylase inhibition (61.87%) with significant decrease in serum glucose concentration. Biochemical alterations were considerably restored (p<0.05) by treatment of diabetic rats with ME at doses of 150 and 300 mg/kbw. (see constituents above) (8)
Antimicrobial / Antioxidant / Rhizome: Study of crude extract and some fractions showed good antibacterial activities against P. aeruginosa, S. epidermis, E. coli, K. pneumonia and B. subtilis. All fractions showed antifungal activity against Aspergillus niger, A. fumigatus, and A. flavus except for ethyl acetate and aqueous fractions. The n-hexane, ethyl aceate, and aqueous fractions showed excellent DPPH free radical scavenging activity. (9)
Hypotensive and Vasorelaxant Effects / Seed: Study  evaluated the vascular mechanisms underlying the hypotensive activity of S. halepense seed extract and fractions.  Am aqueous soluble fraction at dose of 10 mg/kg showed most significant blood pressure lowering effect. The effect was attenuated by atropine. The aqueous soluble fraction produced endothelium dependent vasorelaxation in rat aortic rings. The vasorelaxant effect was attenuated by potassium channel blockers and produced inhibitory effect on calcium entry through calcium channels. HPLC analysis found vanillic acid and naringinin. (10)
Allergy and Cross-Reactivity: Exposure to Johnson grass pollen may induce allergic reactions such as allergic rhinitis and asthma among sensitized individuals. Allergens Sor h 1, Sor h 2, Sor h 7, Sor h 13, and Sor h 23 from the Johnson grass pollen have been identified. The grass exhibits grass cross-reactivity with maize, Bahia, timothy, sweet vernal, Bermuda grass pollen (species belonging to the same family) and other grasses like Cottonwool, Kikuyu, and English bunch. (12)
Central Activity / Analgesic / Flowers: Study evaluated central activity of  S. halpense flowers in Swiss albino rats. Central activity was proven by actophotometer, rotarod apparatus, inclined plane test, and forced swim test. Central activity was shown by Rota rod test and Inclined plane test. (see constituents above) (13)


October 2023

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Johnson grass / Daniel Villafruela / CC BY-SA 4.0 /  click on image to go to source page / image modified / Wikipedia
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense) spikelets / Copyright © Government of Canada / Non-commercial use / click on link or image to go to source page / Inspection.Canada
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Sorghum halepense / Forest & Kim Starr / CC BY 3.0 /  click on image to go to source page / Wikipedia

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Muehlenbeckia platyclada (F.Muell.) Meisn / KEW: Plants of the World Online

Sorghum halepense / PIER: Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk
Sorghum halepense / Wikipedia
Sorghum halepense / Dara Newman, Global Invasive Species Team, The Nature Conservancy / BugwoodWiki
Sorghum / Wikipedia
Deprecated Johnson grass IgE Ab RAST class [Presence] in Serum / LOINC: Code 15743-8
Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers rhizomes inhibitory potential against diabetes and free radicals / Muhammad Abdur Rehman Shah, Rahmat Ali Khan, Mushtaq Ahmed / Clinical Phytoscience, 2021; 7: Article No 19 / DOI: 10.1186/s40816-021-00259-3
Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers rhizomes inhibitory potential against diabetes and free radicals / Muhammad Abdur Rehman Shah, Rahman Ali Khan, Mustaq Ahmed / Clinical Phytoscience, 2021; 7: Article No 19 / DOI: 10.1186/s49816-021-00259-3
Elemental, antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of a medical plant, Sorghum halepense / Abdul Yasar Khayal, Inam Ullah, Muhammad Nughman, Syed Majid Shah, Nawab Ali / Pure Appl. Biol., 2019; 8(1): pp 795-803 / DOI: 10.19045/bspab.2019.80022
Study on vascular mechanisms underlying the hypotensive effect of Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers / Amna Batool, Muhammad Saleem, Alamgeer, Hafiz Muhammad Irfan et al /  Pak J Pharm Sci., 2020; 33(5S): pp 2219-2230 / PMID: 33832894
Johnson grass / Natural Medicinal Herbs
g10 Johnson grass / allergy & autoimmune disease   / Allergen Encyclopedia
Evaluation of central activity of ethanolic flower extract of Sorghum halpense on Albino Rats / B Rambabu, KSK Rao Patnaik, Medidi Srinavas, G Abhinayani, J Sunil, M Naga Ganesh / Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies, 2016; 4(5): pp 104-107 / ISSN: 2320-3862
An ethnobotanical survey of indigenous medicinal plants in Hafizabad district, Punjab- Pakistan / Muhammad Umair, Muhammad Altaf, Arshad Mehmood Abbasi / PLOS|one, 2017 /
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0177912
Study of medicinal plants among weeds of wheat and maize in Peshawar region / Syed Rehmat Ullal Shah, Muhammad Qasim, Ijaz Ahmad Khan, Syed Azmat Ullal Shah / Pak J Weed Sci Res., 2006; 12(3): pp 191-197
Medicinal Uses of Grasses by the Tribal People in West Bengal - An Overview / Anshuman Saha, Akrmul Hoque, Shyuamal Kanti Mallick, Sauris Panda / International Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 2013; 3(3): pp 63-70 / ISSN: 2277-1921

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants
                                          New plant names needed
The compilation now numbers over 1,300 medicinal plants. While I believe there are hundreds more that can be added to the collection, they are becoming increasingly difficult to find. If you know of a medicinal plant to suggest for inclusion, please email the info: local plant name (if known), any known folkloric medicinal use, scientific name (most helpful), and, if available, a photo. Suggestions are greatly appreciated. (G.Stuart)

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