Maize & Teosinte

By Leanna Feder

Sep 26 2019

Maize (Zea mays), or corn, is a domesticated cereal crop native to Mexico and Central America. Maize domestication occurred approximately 9000 years ago in Southwest Mexico, from wild relatives known as teosintes. The teosinte most similar to maize, and generally considered to be the progenitor, is Zea mays subsp. parviglumis.
Teosintes are almost unrecognizable as relatives of maize because the female inflorescence (ear) of maize was so dramatically altered by human selection. Teosinte ears contain approximately 5-12 kernels while a typical ear of maize has about 800! 

People Also Viewed


Doebley, J. (1990). Molecular Evidence and the Evolution of Maize. Economic Botany, 44(3), 6-27. Retrieved 23 Septermber 2019 from

Iltis, H. H., Doebley, J. F., M., R. G., & Pazy, B. (1979). Zea diploperennis (Gramineae): A New Teosinte from Mexico. Science, 203(4376), 186-188. doi: 10.1126/science.203.4376.186. (2019). Corn FAQs | Iowa Corn. [online] Retrieved 23 September 2019 from

Yang, N., et al. (2017). Contributions of Zea mays subspecies mexicana haplotypes to modern maize. Nature Communications, 8: 1874. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02063-5.