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Genus of the Week

Week of November 15-21

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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:


Subclass: Monocotyledoneae
Superorder: Commelinidae
Order: Poales
Family: Gramineae
Subfamily: Panicoideae
Tribe: Andropogoneae
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:


  1. Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.

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