Maíz (maize) is a Caribbean word that means the cause of life. The Nahuatl name for corn is centli. After the arrival of the Spanish, maíz prevailed in Mexico. Corn is an annual herbaceous plant. It reaches a height of over three meters, depending on growing conditions, and bears unisexual flowers. Masculine flowers sprout at the ends of stems; female blossoms grow in the axils of the leaves, forming dense spikes of tightly inserted grains, called ears.
Toluqueño palomero corn comes from a group of conical corn varieties endemic to Mexico.
Toluqueño palomero breeds produce conical ears, with multiple rows of kernels that vary in texture, ranging from farinaceous to popcorn grains. They form the production base of Mexico’s central agricultural zones and different varieties are used to make tortillas, tamales, antojitos, pozoles and popcorn, etc. Other parts of the plant have uses. For example, husks are used to wrap tamales or become food for livestock.
Toluqueño palomero is considered one of Mexico’s oldest breeds whose probable distribution center was the Valley of Toluca, Mexico State, hence the name toluqueño.
Distinguishing characteristics include small conical ears and numerous rows of sharp rice- and popcorn-like kernels.
Toluqueño palomero is grown in temperate and cold areas, mainly in the Central Highlands.
Toluqueño palomero corn is used to make popcorn. The Nahua and Mazahua communities of this region also use it when preparing tamales.