Corny Ancestry

I love growing weird plants, and I’m endlessly fascinated by plant breeding and the extreme transformations humans have made in our crop plants over the history of agriculture.

Which is why growing teosinte, the wild ancestor of corn, was a no brainer. Even before I planted it, comparing the seeds is fascinating. teocornseed

Once growing you can see the similarity. Teosinte is on the left in the picture below, corn on the right.

teocorn

The most dramatic difference between the two, I think, is the “ear” of teosinte, which is nothing more than a thin sprig of half-a-dozen seeds.

teoear

It is amazing to me that native Americans in Southern Mexico, with no knowledge of genetics, were able to transform this grass with a handful of tiny, rock-hard seeds into one of the single most productive crops in the world.

Published by

Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - www.facebook.com/TheGardenProfessors "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - www.facebook.com/groups/GardenProfessors Books: http://www.sustainablelandscapesandgardens.com

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