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Maize (Zea mays)

A member of the grass family (Graminae) and native to Mexico - although not now known there as a wild plant.

Evidence from archaeological records show, that it was a staple of man when he first arrived in the area in about 3500 BC.

When discovered by Columbus on his adventures maize seeds were brought back to Spain and the crop quickly became popular in Mediterranean regions of Europe. One of its native names was mahiz, and an adaptation of this name was adopted.

Later, the Pilgrim Fathers encountered it when meeting the local Indians, and as corn has always been a generic English name for any grain, they called it "Indian corn". It arrived in Britain via the Venetians and the unlikely route of Turkey, so initially went under the name of "Turkish wheat" on these shores.

Maize is now grown as a crop in all warm temperate regions of the world. It is used to make hominy, polenta, corn bread and animal feed, in the southern states of the U.S.A; popcorn and corn oil universally. Not even the stalks are wasted, as they"re used to make paper and hardboard. See 'Maize, Sweet corn'

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