Sorghum bicolor (Scientific name)

General Poisoning Notes:

Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is a cultivated plant grown as ensilage, as poultry feed, or sometimes as broomcorn, for its long, flexible, high-quality broom fibers. Sorghum can contain a cyanogenic glycoside that can produce HCN during times of stress or if damaged by frost or mastication. Modern sorghums have been developed for their low HCN potential and are normally safe. Sorghum can also accumulate toxic levels of nitrates. Cattle and rarely horses have been poisoned (Kingsbury 1964, Gray et al. 1968, Clay et al. 1976).

References:

  • Cheeke, P. R., Shull, L. R. 1985. Natural toxicants in feeds and poisonous plants. AVI Publishing Company, Inc., Westport, Conn., USA. 492 pp.
  • Clay, B. R., Edwards, W. C., Peterson, D. R. 1976. Toxic nitrate accumulation in the sorghums. Bovine Pract., 11: 28-32.
  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.
  • Gray, E., Rice, J. S., Wattenbarger, D., Benson, J. A., Hester, A. J., Loyd, R. C., Greene, B. M. 1968. Hydrocyanic acid potential of Sorghum plants grown in Tennessee. Tenn. Agric. Exp. Stn. Bull., 445. 48 pp.
  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.
  • Morgan, S. E., Johnson, B., Brewer, B., Walker, J. 1990. Sorghum cystitis ataxia syndrome in horses. Vet. Hum. Toxicol., 32: 582.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench
Vernacular name(s):
Sorghum
Scientific family name:
Gramineae
Vernacular family name:
grass

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Sorghum bicolor

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada, Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

Plant or plant parts used in or around the home.

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or Illustration

Images: Sorghum bicolor- Google search

Notes on Poisonous Plant Parts:

Damaged leaves and stems can release HCN. Since HCN is volatile, silage made from this plant is generally safe (Cheeke and Schull 1985).

Toxic parts:

  • leaves
  • stems

References:

  • Cheeke, P. R., Shull, L. R. 1985. Natural toxicants in feeds and poisonous plants. AVI Publishing Company, Inc., Westport, Conn., USA. 492 pp.

Notes on Toxic Plant Chemicals:

In the presence of plant enzymes released by damage, a cyanogenic glycoside, dhurrin, produces hydrocyanic acid (HCN) in the animal's system. Levels of cyanide at 250 mg/ 100 g of plant tissue have been measured after damage. A lethal dose of cyanide is 0.5-3 mg/kg of body weight. Some sorghum plants have been measured with levels 10 times a lethal of HCN (Cheeke and Schull 1985).

Toxic Plant Chemicals:

  • dhurrin
  • nitrate

References:

  • Cheeke, P. R., Shull, L. R. 1985. Natural toxicants in feeds and poisonous plants. AVI Publishing Company, Inc., Westport, Conn., USA. 492 pp.
  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Cattle

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

References:

  • Cheeke, P. R., Shull, L. R. 1985. Natural toxicants in feeds and poisonous plants. AVI Publishing Company, Inc., Westport, Conn., USA. 492 pp.
  • Clay, B. R., Edwards, W. C., Peterson, D. R. 1976. Toxic nitrate accumulation in the sorghums. Bovine Pract., 11: 28-32.
  • Gray, E., Rice, J. S., Wattenbarger, D., Benson, J. A., Hester, A. J., Loyd, R. C., Greene, B. M. 1968. Hydrocyanic acid potential of Sorghum plants grown in Tennessee. Tenn. Agric. Exp. Stn. Bull., 445. 48 pp.
  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.

Horses

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

Notes on Poisoning:

In the United States sublethal doses of HCN caused degeneration of the lumbar and sacral segments of the spinal cord in horses after they ingested sorghum. Large quantities of sediment occur in the urine. If forced to move, affected horses sway from side to side and dribble urine, a condition known as sorghum cystitis ataxia. Other symptoms include an extremely enlarged bladder and patchy encephalomalacia with axonal degeneration. Damage is permanent. When fed sorghums during early pregnancy, mares have aborted. The causal toxin has not been determined yet (Fuller and McClintock 1986, Morgan et al. 1990).

References:

  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.
  • Morgan, S. E., Johnson, B., Brewer, B., Walker, J. 1990. Sorghum cystitis ataxia syndrome in horses. Vet. Hum. Toxicol., 32: 582.

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