In eastern Bolivia, where the wooded foothills of the Andes meet the forests and savannas of the Amazon tributaries, maize has several regional characteristics some of which have been briefly described in Botanical Museum (Harvard) Leaflets 12:257‑291. In 1947, while a Guggenheim Fellow on leave from the Botanical Museum of Harvard, the writer made studies and collections of maize about Reyes and Rurrenabaque in the Department of Beni, Bolivia. This is the area which appears most promising for studies on the origin of maize.
There are two types of corn grown by the natives of this region; a crystal white flint similar to that of Paraguay, northern Argentina and southwestern Brazil, and a flour corn with a peculiar arrangement of the paired spikelets which permits an ear to have odd numbers of rows of grains over most of the ear just as readily as even numbers of rows. The leaves are narrower than leaves in other maize of Bolivia; most of the grains have a brownish‑orange aleurone, while the cob and glumes exhibit a diversity in color found nowhere else in Bolivia. Dr. James Cameron found that the chromosomes of a plant grown from an ear of this type lacked knobs.
In the same region, mainly restricted to the borders between forest and savanna, is Tripsacum australe in a wide range of forms. The plants range in habit from grasses one meter tall to much wider leaved, corn‑like, succulent plants three meters or more in height. Some of the plants have paired spikelets and a wide variety of plant colors. A Brazilian Tripsacum australe has been described (Graves and Addison 1945) as lacking terminal knobs on the chromosomes.
Although no wild plant resembling wild maize was discovered, a good collection of maize and Tripsacum was obtained. Small amounts of these seeds are available to anyone interested in growing them for study. Plants grown from them will usually require short‑day treatment to induce flowering.
Hugh C. Cutler