Zea mays - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-283.jpg
Illustration showing male and female maize flowers
Scientific classification edit
Z. mays
Binomial name
Zea mays

Maize (z/ MAYZ; Zea mays subsp. mays, from Spanish: maíz after Taino: mahiz), also known as corn in American English,[1] is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago.[2][3] The leafy stalk of the plant produces pollen inflorescences and separate ovuliferous inflorescences called ears that yield kernels or seeds, which are fruits.[4]

Maize has become a staple food in many parts of the world, with the total production of maize surpassing that of wheat or rice. However, little of this maize is consumed directly by humans: most is used for corn ethanol, animal feed and other maize products, such as corn starch and corn syrup.[5] The six major types of maize are dent corn, flint corn, pod corn, popcorn, flour corn, and sweet corn.[6] Sugar-rich varieties called sweet corn are usually grown for human consumption as kernels, while field corn varieties are used for animal feed, various corn-based human food uses (including grinding into cornmeal or masa, pressing into corn oil, and fermentation and distillation into alcoholic beverages like bourbon whiskey), and as chemical feedstocks. Maize is also used in making ethanol and other biofuels.

Maize is widely cultivated throughout the world, and a greater weight of maize is produced each year than any other grain.[7] In 2014, total world production was 1.04 billion tonnes. Maize is the most widely grown grain crop throughout the Americas, with 361 million metric tons grown in the United States in 2014. Approximately 40% of the crop—130 million tons—is used for corn ethanol.[8] Genetically modified maize made up 85% of the maize planted in the United States in 2009.[9]


Pre-Columbian development

Guilá Naquitz Cave in Oaxaca, Mexico is the site of early domestication of several food crops, including teosinte (an ancestor of maize).[10]
Cultivation of maize in an illustration from the 16th c. Florentine Codex
Ancient mesoamerican engraving, National Museum of Anthropology of Mexico.

Most historians believe maize was domesticated in the Tehuacán Valley of Mexico.[11] Recent research in the early 21st century has modified this view somewhat; scholars now indicate the adjacent Balsas River Valley of south-central Mexico as the center of domestication.[12]

An influential 2002 study by Matsuoka et al. has demonstrated that, rather than the multiple independent domestications model, all maize arose from a single domestication in southern Mexico about 9,000 years ago. The study also demonstrated that the oldest surviving maize types are those of the Mexican highlands. Later, maize spread from this region over the Americas along two major paths. This is consistent with a model based on the archaeological record suggesting that maize diversified in the highlands of Mexico before spreading to the lowlands.[13][14]

Archaeologist Dolores Piperno has said:[12]

A large corpus of data indicates that it [maize] was dispersed into lower Central America by 7600 BP [5600 BC] and had moved into the inter-Andean valleys of Colombia between 7000 and 6000 BP [5000–4000 BC].

— Dolores Piperno, The Origins of Plant Cultivation and Domestication in the New World Tropics: Patterns, Process, and New Developments[12]

Since then, even earlier dates have been published.[15]

According to a genetic study by Embrapa, corn cultivation was introduced in South America from Mexico, in two great waves: the first, more than 6000 years ago, spread through the Andes. Evidence of cultivation in Peru has been found dating to about 6700 years ago.[16] The second wave, about 2000 years ago, through the lowlands of South America.[17]

The earliest maize plants grew only small, 25 millimetres (1 in) long corn cobs, and only one per plant. In Spielvogel's view, many centuries of artificial selection (rather than the current view that maize was exploited by interplanting with teosinte) by the indigenous people of the Americas resulted in the development of maize plants capable of growing several cobs per plant, which were usually several centimetres/inches long each.[18] The Olmec and Maya cultivated maize in numerous varieties throughout Mesoamerica; they cooked, ground and processed it through nixtamalization. It was believed that beginning about 2500 BC, the crop spread through much of the Americas.[19] Research of the 21st century has established even earlier dates. The region developed a trade network based on surplus and varieties of maize crops.

Mapuches of south-central Chile cultivated maize along with quinoa and potatoes in Pre-Hispanic times, however potato was the staple food of most Mapuches, "specially in the southern and coastal [Mapuche] territories where maize did not reach maturity".[20][21] Before the expansion of the Inca Empire maize was traded and transported as far south as 40°19' S in Melinquina, Lácar Department.[22] In that location maize remains were found inside pottery dated to 730 ±80 BP and 920 ±60 BP. Probably this maize was brought across the Andes from Chile.[22] The presence of maize in Guaitecas Archipelago (43°55' S), the southernmost outpost of Pre-Hispanic agriculture,[23] is reported by early Spanish explorers.[24] However the Spanish may have misidentified the plant.[24]

Columbian exchange

After the arrival of Europeans in 1492, Spanish settlers consumed maize and explorers and traders carried it back to Europe and introduced it to other countries. Spanish settlers far preferred wheat bread to maize, cassava, or potatoes. Maize flour could not be substituted for wheat for communion bread, since in Christian belief only wheat could undergo transubstantiation and be transformed into the body of Christ.[25] Some Spaniards worried that by eating indigenous foods, which they did not consider nutritious, they would weaken and risk turning into Indians. "In the view of Europeans, it was the food they ate, even more than the environment in which they lived, that gave Amerindians and Spaniards both their distinctive physical characteristics and their characteristic personalities."[26] Despite these worries, Spaniards did consume maize. Archeological evidence from Florida sites indicate they cultivated it as well.[27]

Maize spread to the rest of the world because of its ability to grow in diverse climates. It was cultivated in Spain just a few decades after Columbus's voyages and then spread to Italy, West Africa and elsewhere.[27]

Other Languages
Адыгэбзэ: Нартыху
Afrikaans: Mielie
Alemannisch: Mais
አማርኛ: በቆሎ
العربية: ذرة (نبات)
aragonés: Zea mays
armãneashti: Câlâmbuchiu
asturianu: Zea mays
Avañe'ẽ: Avati
Aymar aru: Tunqu
azərbaycanca: Qarğıdalı
bamanankan: Kaba
বাংলা: ভুট্টা
Bân-lâm-gú: Hoan-be̍h
Basa Banyumasan: Jagung
башҡортса: Шәкәр кукурузы
беларуская: Кукуруза
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Кукуруза
Bikol Central: Mais
Bislama: Corn
български: Царевица
Boarisch: Gugaruz
བོད་ཡིག: ཨ་ཤོམ།
bosanski: Kukuruz
brezhoneg: Maiz
буряад: Кукуруза
català: Dacsa
Чӑвашла: Чакан тулă
Cebuano: Zea mays
čeština: Kukuřice setá
chiShona: Chibage
chiTumbuka: Chingoma
Cymraeg: Indrawn
dansk: Majs
Deitsch: Welschkann
Deutsch: Mais
ދިވެހިބަސް: ޒުވާރި
Diné bizaad: Naadą́ą́ʼ
dolnoserbski: Majs
eesti: Mais
Ελληνικά: Καλαμπόκι
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Furmintòun
español: Zea mays
Esperanto: Maizo
estremeñu: Zea mays
euskara: Arto
فارسی: ذرت
føroyskt: Mais
français: Maïs
Fulfulde: Masarji
furlan: Blave
galego: Millo
ГӀалгӀай: ХьажкӀа
贛語: 粟米
ગુજરાતી: મકાઈ
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Pâu-siuk
한국어: 옥수수
Hausa: Masara
հայերեն: Եգիպտացորեն
हिन्दी: मक्का (अनाज)
hornjoserbsce: Prawa kukurica
hrvatski: Kukuruz
Bahasa Hulontalo: Binte
Ido: Maizo
Ilokano: Mais
Bahasa Indonesia: Jagung
interlingua: Zea mays
Ирон: Нартхор
íslenska: Maís
italiano: Zea mays
עברית: תירס
Jawa: Jagung
Kabɩyɛ: Saamɩɖɛ
Kapampangan: Mais
къарачай-малкъар: Нартюх
ქართული: სიმინდი
қазақша: Жүгері
Kinyarwanda: Ikigori
Kiswahili: Muhindi
Kongo: Disângu
Kreyòl ayisyen: Mayi
kurdî: Garis
Кыргызча: Жүгөрү
Latina: Zea mays
latviešu: Kukurūza
Lëtzebuergesch: Mais
Ligure: Granon
Limburgs: Meis
lingála: Lisángú
Lingua Franca Nova: Mais
la .lojban.: zumri
lumbaart: Zea mays
मैथिली: मकै
македонски: Пченка
മലയാളം: ചോളം
मराठी: मका
მარგალური: ლაიტი
مصرى: دره
مازِرونی: کوگندم
Bahasa Melayu: Jagung
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Iù-diĕng-báu
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ပြောင်းဖူး
Nāhuatl: Cintli
Na Vosa Vakaviti: Sila
Nederlands: Mais
नेपाली: मकै
नेपाल भाषा: कःनि
Napulitano: Granone
нохчийн: ХьаьжкӀа
Nordfriisk: Meis (slach)
norsk: Mais
norsk nynorsk: Mais
occitan: Milh
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ମକା
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Makkajoʻxori
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਮੱਕੀ
پنجابی: مکی
پښتو: جوار
Patois: Kaan
Piemontèis: Melia
Ποντιακά: Λαζούδ
português: Milho
română: Porumb
Runa Simi: Sara
русский: Кукуруза
саха тыла: Кукурууза
ᱥᱟᱱᱛᱟᱲᱤ: ᱡᱚᱱᱚᱲᱟ
Scots: Maize
Seeltersk: Turske Weete
Setswana: Mmidi/Mmopo
shqip: Misri
sicilianu: Zea mays
සිංහල: බඩ ඉරිඟු
Simple English: Maize
سنڌي: مڪئي
slovenčina: Kukurica siata
slovenščina: Koruza
Soomaaliga: Galley
کوردی: گەنمەشامی
српски / srpski: Кукуруз
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Kukuruz
Sunda: Jagong
suomi: Maissi
svenska: Majs
Tagalog: Mais
Taqbaylit: Ukbal
татарча/tatarça: Кукуруз
తెలుగు: మొక్కజొన్న
lea faka-Tonga: Koane
Tsetsêhestâhese: Ová'kemâhaemenôtse
Türkçe: Mısır (bitki)
Thuɔŋjäŋ: Anyuɔl
українська: Кукурудза
اردو: مکئی
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: كۆممىقوناق
Vahcuengh: Haeuxyangz
vèneto: Zea mays
vepsän kel’: Kukuruz
Tiếng Việt: Ngô
Volapük: Mait
Võro: Mais
Winaray: Maís
吴语: 玉米
ייִדיש: קוקורוזע
Yorùbá: Àgbàdo
粵語: 粟米
Zazaki: Lazut
中文: 玉米