A stout annual cereal plant (Zea mays, sometimes called Indian corn) growing up to 1.8 m tall and yielding large grains set in rows on a cob. Teosinte, the wild ancestor of maize, is found in Mesoamerica from Mexico to Honduras, and perhaps further south still. The transition from wild grass to a maize cob appears to have happened in about a century or less, although it took far longer for large succulent cobs to evolve. First domesticated by c.3500 bc in Mesoamerica, maize makes its first appearance in the Coxcatlán Phase of the Tehuacán Valley sequence dated to before c.5000 bc. In North America it was the hardy low‐yielding chapalote form of maize that was first cultivated in the southwest in the period c.1500–1000 bc, but this was soon replaced by the far more productive form maiz de ocho which is adapted to dry conditions but highly productive.
Subjects: Medicine and Health — Arts and Humanities.