What is teosinte?

Teosinte is a wild grass in the Poaceae family that includes the species Zea mays (in addition to other wild grass species: Z. diploperennis, Z. perennis, and Z. luxurians.). Z. mays encompasses several subspecies: ssp. huehuetenangensis, ssp. mexicana, ssp. parviglumis and others. Zea mays ssp. parviglumis is most likely the ancestor of maize (Zea mays ssp. mays). Teosinte and maize are different subspecies of the species Zea mays, but maize, as a result of domestication, has been selected by humans over thousands of years to have more kernels, bigger cobs, more rows of kernels, and exposed kernels that are more edible. (See also What is domestication and Domestication genes)


(left photo by Hugh Iltis, from John Doebley's image gallery; right photo from T Fulton)