226. Zea Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 971. 1753.
玉蜀黍属 yu shu shu shu
Authors: Shou-liang Chen & Sylvia M. Phillips
Annual. Culms robust, often tall with stilt roots, solid. Leaf blades large, broadly linear; ligule membranous. Inflorescences terminal and axillary, spikelets unisexual, separated into male and female inflorescences, not disarticulating at maturity, spikelets of a pair alike. Female inflorescence axillary, enclosed in enveloping foliaceous sheaths; spikelets all sessile in many longitudinal rows, partially sunk in the thickened, almost woody axis, glumes and lemmas chaffy, awnless, lower floret sterile; styles single, very long, silky, pendulous from inflorescence apex. Male inflorescence terminal, of many digitate or paniculate racemes; one spikelet of a pair subsessile, the other on a slender pedicel, papery, awnless, both florets staminate. Mature caryopses plump, much larger than spikelet scales, very variable in shape and color. x = 5.
Five species: four wild species in Central America; one species cultivated in all warm parts of the world, including China.