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Abstract Detail

Crop Wild Relatives and Land Races: the Sky Islands of Southwest North American Agriculture

Hodgson, Wendy C. [1], Salywon, Andrew [2].

Pre-Columbian Agaves in the Southwestern United States: Discovering Lost Crops among the Hohokam and other Arizona Cultures.

Researchers have long recognized the importance of agaves to Mesoamerica and its cultures, the plants providing food, fiber and beverage. However, their significance to these cultures has overshadowed and distorted the plants’ role for indigenous peoples north of the U.S. - Mexico border. Pre-Columbian farmers grew no less than six and possibly as many as eight or more domesticated agaves in Arizona dating to at least A.D. 600. Because of their longevity and primarily asexual reproduction, relict agave clones have persisted in the landscape to the present, providing an opportunity to study pre-Columbian nutrition, trade, migration and agricultural practices. Additionally, the remnant clones present a rare opportunity to examine domesticates virtually unchanged since they were last cultivated within a prehistoric cultural context. DNA sequence data, in addition to plant morphology, suggests that at least three may have originated in Arizona, suggesting this state as a secondary center of domestication. These discoveries underscore the necessity of viewing landscapes and some plant species from a cultural, rather than “natural,” perspective that may help discern potential cryptic species veiled by traditional taxonomic treatments. Understanding these plants and their ecological/cultural roles requires interdisciplinary collaboration between botanists and archaeologists.

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Related Links:

1 - Desert Botanical Garden, Research, 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ, 85008, USA
2 - Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ, 85008, United States


Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Session: SYM4, Crop Wild Relatives and Land Races: the Sky Islands of Southwest North American Agriculture
Location: San Luis 1/Starr Pass
Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2019
Time: 2:45 PM
Number: SYM4004
Abstract ID:298
Candidate for Awards:George R. Cooley Award

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