Teocintle, Mother of Corn

7 Jul


Teocintle is the ancestor of corn, which was first developed thousands of years ago in Mexico or Central America and now dominates world agriculture. I have to say I felt awe on first seeing this little plant in the Jardin Etnobotanico in Oaxaca. It is the basis of the great indigenous cultures of Mesoamerica. It is believed that migrating hunter-gatherers were first attracted not to its grain but to its cane, which is sweet to chew. But when they picked the cane, they inadvertently pollinated the plants. When they returned from their migrations, they found bigger and better plants. Hybridization continued, and eventually the early people began to value the seeds and plant them deliberately. Today, corn in many forms is still the basis of Mexican cooking. But native Mexican corn, and the millions of farmers who grow it, are threatened by subsidized corn imported from the United States under NAFTA, GMO corn varieties brought in by Monsanto, and drought due to climate change and destruction of Mexico’s rich forests.

3 Responses to “Teocintle, Mother of Corn”

  1. Lily July 8, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    Gracias Judy por compartir tus historias con nosotros. Es bueno saber tantos detalles de nuestros antepasados. Eso me hace darme cuenta cada dia mas de la gran relacion entre todos los Latinos que aunque seamos de diferentes paises tenemos muchas cosas en comun. Tanto el uso del maiz como del platano lo traemos de nuestras raices indigenas. Yo personalmente me identifico mucho con tus historias.

    Un beso,


    • juditjardinera July 13, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

      Hola, Lily! Me fascina aprender acerca de las plantas de Oaxaca, porque tiene muchas vinculaciones con la cultura y la economia del sitio. Es asi en Colombia?

      A proposito, ha visitado el jardin botanico en el Bronx? Se dice que es el mejor en NYC.

      Un abrazo,

  2. Lily July 16, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    Hi Judy,
    Todavia no he ido al Jardin Botanico porque voy a esperar que vengas para que vamos juntas.

    Te quiero mucho,


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