Zea mays   L. Corn  - Poaceae

The plant that we know as corn, Zea mays, is a grass whose wild ancestor was indigenous to Mexico.  Through selection and cultivation the plant today produces large ears of grains.     

"Corn " is Anglo-Saxon for a grain or seed and is a term used to denote the seed of any one of the cereal grasses used for food.

Indian corn is the staple grain in Mexico, Central America and now in South Africa as well.  The colorful grains of Indian corn were worn in necklaces by the Aztecs, Mayas and Incas who were able to make impressive cultural achievements because they domesticated this crop. 

Corn was paramount in the lives of the Hopi of the southwestern United States.  The seed was so highly prized that it was committed to the care of the clan's chief.  Every Hopi child had an ear of corn as its special symbolic mother.16

The Zuni, too, used corn  for ceremonial purposes.  For them yellow corn represented the North, blue the West, red the South and white the East.17

Today the Cochiti of New Mexico and other southwestern tribes make and sell necklaces of many-colored corn  grains to tourists.

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