Ecuador maize varieties

The varieties of Ecuadorian maize are the repository of a rich farming and cooking tradition.

Maize is cropped almost everywhere in Ecuador, with the exception of the Altiplano, the cold desert highlands 3000 meters above sea level. Maize production is concentrated in the provinces of Loja, Azuay, and Pichincha, and to a lesser extant Bolívar, Chimborazo, Tungurahua, and Imbabura, provinces located in the mountains. Maize is also found in the coastal provinces, Manabí, Esmeraldas, and Guayas, as well as Pastaza, part of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Use as food

Most traditional foods are strictly linked to specific maize kernel types as well as grinding and cooking techniques. Cooked or toasted grains, and puddings of partially ripe grains, are prepared with mostly floury kernel varieties;


Maize is believed to have crossed the Isthmus of Panama around 5,000 years BCE reaching Colombia and later the Ecuadorian coast. Since then, domestication and evolution of native varieties followed this pattern;

The first description of Ecuadorian maize varieties was written by the colonial chronicler Father Juan de Velasco (1727–1792);[1]

Contemporary classification

Kernels of maize varieties eaten in Ecuador are the outcome of the evolution of varieties of the following morphological groups described by Alfred Sturtevant;

During 1962 and 1963 Aureliano Brandolini collected 458 seed samples of the Ecuadorian varieties within the equatorial zone, between 2° North and -6° South.[2] The comparative study of the behavior of these accessions resulted in the identification of racial complexes corresponding to those described earlier by D.H. Timothy and collaborators.[3] A few races, morocho, harinoso dentado, montaña, and candela, were not included in the sampled varieties, while a few new races were described, such as colorado puntiagudo, harinoso cónico, and huaco sara, as well as tunicata, a variety cropped in Bolívar Province.

The classification of Ecuadorian maize was based on the following data; location and environment (altitude and photoperiodic response included), plant and ear characteristics, cytological analysis of the chromosomes, and historic and ethnographic information concerning the crop.

The tripsacoid races of everta, indentata, and indurata, sections were separated from the primitive ones of the amilacea, amylosaccharata, indurata, and tunicata sections, and from maize imported or derived in historical times from the amylacea and indurata sections.

This study underlined that:

Studies enabled the identification of the following racial complexes and races:[4][5]

Important primitive, derived or imported traditional varieties still cropped are:

See also


  1. Historia del reino de Quito 1789. Tomo I, Parte I, Libro 2, $ 7, par. 5: Maíz o sara
  2. Elementos para la programación agropecuaria del Ecuador. Desarrollo de los cereales: Maíz, Aureliano Brandolini, 1963 - American status organization, Rome – Washington D.C.
  3. Races of maize in Ecuador, Timothy D. H., Hatheway W. H., Grant U. J., Torregrosa M., Varela A. D., Sarria V. D. Nat. Acad. Sci. - Nat. Res. Council, Washington D.C. Publ. N. 975, 1963
  4. Maize evolution and differentiation, Brandolini A., G. Avila, p108, CRF Press, Bergamo, 2004.
  5. Recursos fitogenéticos de América Latina, Brandolini A., G.V. Brandolini, p242, CRF Press, Bergamo, 2005.

External links

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