Brooms have been used for centuries to sweep up, in, and around the home and workplace. They may be made from a variety of materials, both man-made and natural. Man-made bristles are generally of extruded plastic and metal handles. Natural-material brooms may be constructed of a variety of materials, including brush, but generally include stiff grasses such as broomcorn and/or sotol fiber. Broomcom brooms have been made for at least 200 years and are considered superior brooms. Plastic brooms merely move dirt around, however, broomcom stalks actually absorb dirt and dust, wear extremely well, and are moisture-resistant. Broomcom brooms are the most expensive of the manufactured brooms.
Broomcom is actually a variety of upright grass of the species sorghum referred to as Sorghum vulgare, or S. bicolor variety technicum, belonging to the family Gramineae and cultivated for its stiff stems. Broom bristles are derived when these stiff, tasseled branches—that bear seeds on the ends—are harvested and dried. The seeds are edible, starchy, and high in carbohydrates. They can be used for human consumption (in cereals) or for animal feed. The tasseled stalks, used in the manufacture of brooms, can grow 2-8 ft (0.61-2.4 m) tall. Sorghum is especially valued in hot and arid climates due to its resistance to drought.