U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



Desert Plants 3(4) Winter 1981-82


Four years ago, a young Mexican botanist made what may someday be recognized as the "botanical find of the century." Rafael Guzmán, a student at the University of Guadalajara, was searching for one of the wild relatives of corn in the mountains of southern Mexico. Guzmán was looking for Zea perennis, a perennial "teosinte" thought to be extinct in the wild since the early 1920's. This primitive corn relative was considered more of a botanical curiosity than a boon to mankind. As a tetraploid, perennial teosinte produces sterile offspring when crossed with corn, a diploid species. Guzmán found perennial teosinte growing in a remote mountain site.