Zea mexicana schard
Grass Family (Poaceae). Mexican teosinte is an annual, warm-season grass introduced from Mexico. It is similar to corn in general vegetative appearance and stands 10 to 15 feet in height. It is coarse, branches at the base, and the leaf blades are sword-shaped to 3 ¼ inches wide and 13 to 48 inches long. Clusters of slender “ears” (seed pods) are produced in each of the 5 to 7 uppermost leaf axils. Each ear normally contains 3 to 8 very firm glossy seeds with a marking resembling an insect pupa on the face.
It is adapted to fertile soils ranging from somewhat poorly to well drained. It can grow wherever corn is grown. Approximately 165 to 170 frost free days are required from seeding to maturity.
Corn, Zea mays, is a member of the grass family Poaceae, formerly known as Gramineae. Instead of being relatively short like wheat, corn grows into a tall stalk, up to 20 feet. Sweet corn, the variety that you eat fresh, is the result of a mutation that occurred in the 1800s.
The theoretical ancestor of corn is teosinte, a Mexican grass that also may have given rise to other edible grasses such as Job’s tears. Palomar College says the grass was selectively bred for “many thousands of years” in order to transform the individually encased grains into the modern ear of corn.
Poaceae includes grains as diverse as wheat, sorghum, oats, rye and rice. All form stalks of varying heights, and Texas A&M University says each contains something called an intercalary meristem, which is what allows the grass to continue growing even after it’s been cut down through grazing or mowing.