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Graminae: Zea mexicana

Hugh F. Iltis, John F. Doebley, 401


Zea mexicana (Schrader) Reeves & Mangelsd.

Original Distribution


Extinction Data

IUCN = Extinct Listed 1989, Listed Extinct by WCMC 1996


It is similar to corn in general vegetative appearance and stands 10 to 15 feet in height.  It is coarse, branches at the base, and the leaf blades are sword-shaped to 3 ¼ inches wide and 13 to 48 inches long.  Clusters of slender “ears” (seed pods) are produced in each of the 5 to 7 uppermost leaf axils.  Each ear normally contains 3 to 8 very firm glossy seeds with a marking resembling an insect pupa on the face.

Number of Specimens at Kew


Specimen Type (Y/N)


Kew Herbcat Barcode Number



Hugh F. Iltis, John F. Doebley

Collector Number


Date Collected

23rd September 1977

Information Sources

Vovides, A.P. (1986). Relación de plantas Mexicanas raras o en peligro de extinción. INIREB, Veracruz. Walter, K.S. and Gillett, H.J. (eds) (1998). 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants. Compiled by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre IUCN – The World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK, Extinct Plant Species of the World IUCN Survey and preliminary report: April 1989