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"In the view of Europeans, it was the food they ate, even more than the environment in which they lived, that gave Amerindians and Spaniards both their distinctive physical characteristics and their characteristic personalities." Maize spread to the rest of the world because of its ability to grow in diverse climates.

It was cultivated in Spain just a few decades after Columbus's voyages and then spread to Italy, West Africa and elsewhere. The word "corn" outside North America, Australia, and New Zealand refers to any cereal crop, its meaning understood to vary geographically to refer to the local staple.

In Spielvogel's view, many centuries of artificial selection (rather than the current view that maize was exploited by interplanting with teosinte) by the indigenous people of the Americas resulted in the development of maize plants capable of growing several cobs per plant, which were usually several centimetres/inches long each.

The Olmec and Maya cultivated maize in numerous varieties throughout Mesoamerica; they cooked, ground and processed it through nixtamalization.

The apex of the stem ends in the tassel, an inflorescence of male flowers.

When the tassel is mature and conditions are suitably warm and dry, anthers on the tassel dehisce and release pollen.

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Maize is the most widely grown grain crop throughout the Americas, with 361 million metric tons grown in the United States in 2014 (Production table).

The six major types of corn are dent corn, flint corn, pod corn, popcorn, flour corn, and sweet corn. has demonstrated that, rather than the multiple independent domestications model, all maize arose from a single domestication in southern Mexico about 9,000 years ago.

The study also demonstrated that the oldest surviving maize types are those of the Mexican highlands.

Evidence of cultivation in Peru has been found dating to about 6700 years ago.

Before domestication, maize plants grew only small, 25 millimetres (1 in) long corn cobs, and only one per plant.

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