This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Annual or perennial grasses with long broad flat leaves and terminal ample panicles. Spikelets in pairs at the nodes, or in 3's at the ends of the branches, one sessile and perfect, the others pedicellate, and staminate or empty. Sessile spikelet consisting of 4 scales, the outer indurated and shining, obscurely nerved, the inner hyaline, the fourth awned and subtending a small palet and perfect flower, or palet sometimes wanting. Stamens 3. Styles distinct. Grain free. [Name Greek, taken from Pliny.]
About 10 species, of wide distribution in tropical and warm-temperate regions. Type species: Holcus Sorghum L.
Holcus halepensis L. Sp. PI. 1047. 1753. Andropogon halepensis Brot. Fl. Lusit. 1: 89. 1804. Sorghum halepense Pers. Syn. 1: 101. 1805.
Culms erect, 3°-5° tall, simple or sometimes branched, smooth and glabrous; sheaths smooth; blades 20 or less long, 1/4'-1' wide, long-acuminate; panicle open, 1/2°-1 1/2° long, the generally whorled branches spreading and naked towards the base; outer scales of sessile spikelet 2"-3" long, ovate-lanceolate, usually purplish, pubescent with long appressed hairs; awn readily deciduous, 4"-8" long, more or less bent; pedicellate spikelets of 4 scales, the outer two 2 1/2"-3 1/2" long, membranous, 7-9-nerved, their inrolled margins ciliate, the inner two shorter and narrower, hyaline, sometimes with staminate flowers.
In fields and waste places, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to Kansas and Arizona, south to Florida and Texas. Widely distributed by cultivation in tropical America. Native of southern Europe and Asia. July-Sept. Maiden-cane, Egyptian Millet, Cuba, Syrian or St. Mary's-grass.