Zea L.
  • Sp. Pl.: 971 (1753) 

General Description

HABIT Annual (4), or perennial (2). Rhizomes absent (4), or short (1), or elongated (1). Culms erect; robust (1/2), or of moderate stature (1/2); 100-245.8-500 cm long; with prop roots (3/3). Lateral branches lacking (1/1). Ligule an eciliate membrane. Leaf-blades linear (4), or lanceolate. INFLORESCENCE Monoecious. Inflorescence composed of racemes; axillary; subtended by a spatheole; enclosed. Spatheole elliptic; herbaceous. Racemes single; bilateral (5), or multilateral (1); bearing 4 fertile spikelets on each (1/2), or 5-10 fertile spikelets on each (2/2). Rhachis tough (1), or fragile at the nodes (5); subcylindrical and excavated (5), or enlarged into a woody cob (1). Spikelet packing crowded (1), or contiguous (5); 2 -rowed (2/3), or 4-11 -rowed (1/3). Rhachis internodes indefinite (1), or inflated (5). Rhachis internode tip oblique (5/5); flat (3/5), or cupuliform (2/5). Spikelets sunken; solitary (5), or in pairs (1). Fertile spikelets sessile; 2 in the cluster (1/1). Male spikelets sessile (1/5), or sessile and pedicelled (5/5); 2 in a cluster (5/5). FERTILE SPIKELETS Spikelets comprising 1 basal sterile florets; 1 fertile florets; without rhachilla extension. Spikelets oblong (4), or obovate (1), or rhomboid (1); laterally compressed (5), or dorsally compressed (1); 4-5.333-8 mm long; persistent on plant (1), or falling entire (5); deciduous with accessory branch structures (5/5). GLUMES Glumes reaching apex of florets; firmer than fertile lemma. Lower glume oblong (5), or oblate (1); scarious (1), or coriaceous (2), or indurate (3); without keels; 0 -veined (1/1). Lower glume lateral veins absent (1), or distinct (5). Upper glume elliptic (5), or oblate (1); membranous (5), or scarious (1); without keels; 0 -veined (1/1). FLORETS Basal sterile florets barren; with palea, or without significant palea. Lemma of lower sterile floret ovate (1/1); membranous; 0 -veined (1/1). Fertile florets female. Fertile lemma elliptic (5), or orbicular (1); hyaline (5), or membranous (1); without keel; 0 -veined (1/1). FLOWER Lodicules absent (1/1), or 2 (1/1). Anthers 3. Stigmas 2; papillose. FRUIT Caryopsis with adherent pericarp. MALE Male inflorescence terminal; unlike female; of subdigitate racemes (2), or of racemes along a central axis. Male spikelets distinct from female; elliptic (5/5). Male spikelet glumes 2; muticous. Male spikelet lemma muticous. DISTRIBUTION Europe (1), or Africa (3), or Temperate Asia (2), or Tropical Asia (2), or Australasia (2), or Pacific (1), or North America (4), or South America (3).


  • 1 Govaerts, R.H.A. (2011). World checklist of selected plant families published update. Facilitated by the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

 Information From

GrassBase - The Online World Grass Flora
Clayton, W.D., Vorontsova, M.S., Harman, K.T. and Williamson, H. (2006 onwards). GrassBase - The Online World Grass Flora. http://www.kew.org/data/grasses-db.html. [accessed 24 January 2012; 14:30 GMT]
  • A © Copyright The Board of Trustees, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from http://e-monocot.org.
  • B Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
Palmweb - Palms of the World Online
Palmweb 2011. Palmweb: Palms of the World Online. Published on the internet http://www.palmweb.org. Accessed on 21/04/2013
  • C http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/ Retrieved 2011 onwards
  • D See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement.