Genus of the Week
Week of November 15-21
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the
context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of
all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you might also want to visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes
, a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family. Also, you can see my contribution to the
Conservation New England web site, entitled
"The Introduction of Non-Native Plants into Massachusetts".
This week's genus:
Number of Species: possibly only one
Root: from the Greek "zao", meaning "to live"
The genus Zea is known for the species Zea mays, which produces the popular cereal
corn. This genus is extremely important economically, and as a result has been the
focus of much scientific research. If corn is a part of your holiday meal this Thanksgiving,
be sure to think about its use by Native Americans and its origin as a crop cultivated in
Mexico over five thousand years ago.
Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Zea species:
- Be sure to visit
The Maize Page, a great resource of all that is Maize on the web, brought to you by Iowa
- Much research has gone into discovering the ancestor(s) of what we commonly think of as
corn. The Chemistry Laboratory of Natural Resources, part of the Universidad Michoacana de
San Nicolás de Hidalgo of Mexico, has created a great web site to provide more information about
their genetic work on Maize ancestors.
- Read about Barbara McClintock, the Nobel prize-winning scientist, and the discovery of
transposable elements in the DNA of Z. mays. Brought to you by Philip McClean from
North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND. When you're done, click
here to see a picture of what transposable elements can do to an ear of corn. Then go look
for them in your local supermarket! :-)
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
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