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'Rarámuri Popping' Sorghum ("Maizeña")

'Rarámuri Popping' Sorghum ("Maizeña")

Regular price $4.00 Sale

Sorghum bicolor subsp. bicolor

Origin: Rarámuri people, Batopilas Canyon, Chihuahua, Mexico

Improvement status: Cultivar

Seeds per packet: ~50

Germination tested 2/2024: 96%

Life cycle: Annual

This lovely heirloom sorghum comes from the Rarámuri people of northern Mexico (called Tarahumara by the Spanish), famous for their long-distance running — traditionally wearing sandals on their feet — throughout their mountainous homeland. While sorghum is not native to the Americas, it is one of many African crops that were adopted by Indigenous peoples here (including watermelons, okra, gourds, and African peas or black-eyed peas) and eventually became key to their traditional foodways.

This variety, which Rarámuri people call "maizeña", has medium-sized pearly-white grains. It was introduced to the seed trade by the non-profit Native Seeds/SEARCH (NSS) in Tucson, Arizona, after being collected from a Rarámuri community in Batopilas Canyon in the Sierra Madre mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico. It has since become a very popular popping sorghum variety across the small-scale seed industry, carried by many different companies (though typically as "Tarahumara Popping", using the Spanish name — which NSS originally used too — rather than the name the people call themselves, which NSS uses now). 

Popped sorghum looks like tiny popcorn and tastes very similar. This variety — gluten-free, as all sorghums are — is also good for porridge, cooking whole as one might do with barley, or grinding into flour for use in breads, cakes, biscuits, or cookies. According to NSS, the seeds are traditionally popped before grinding into flour.

Our seed comes to us from our dear friend Dr. Kris Hubbard, of Wild Wood Farm in Artemus, Kentucky, a master farmer, storyteller, anthropologist, herbalist, and Indigenous seedkeeper.

GROWING TIPS: Direct-sow after all danger of frost has passed — when you might also be planting corn or beans. Space plants a foot apart, and plant seeds an inch deep. The plants, which resemble corn, may grow up to 12 feet or more. Seeds must be fully dry before they're able to pop.