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THE ORIGIN OF GARDEN PLANTS AND THE FSU CONTRIBUTION

The Mesoamerican Center


This Center (referring mainly to Mesoamerica) includes the Caribbean Floristic Region, and also the southern part of the Madrean Region. Vavilov considered Southern Mexico and Central America an important region for cultivated plants and included the Antilles Islands in this center as well. Some 500 species (10%) are native to this area, most of which can be grown under glass in other regions. They include cacti (Opuntia, Echinocereus, Mammillaria etc.), Orchids (Odontoglossum, Oncidium, Vanilla etc.), begonia (Begonia imperialis), bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea elegans) and wandering jew (Zebrina pendula). About 100 species are cultivated as perennials outdoors in Southern Europe and as annuals in the northern latitudes. Mexico is the native land of such popular ornamentals as Cosmos bipinnatus, Dahlia, everlasting (Gomphrena haageana) and marigolds (Tagetes erecta, T. patula, T. tenuifolia). Sanvitalia procumbens, floss flower (Ageratum houstonianum) and Commelina tuberosa also occur in Mexico and can be found as far south as Guatemala and Peru. In addition to these plants, Zinnia violaceae (syn. Z. elegans) and various species of cacti are known to be have been present in Mexican gardens since ancient times.

The high technological level of gardening in Mexico excited the admiration of Europeans who arrived there at the beginning of 16th century. The Spanish Conquistadors admired the gardens of the Aztecs, particularly the ingeniously designed water gardens in large lakes, and their roof top gardens.

THE ORIGIN OF GARDEN PLANTS
 
 
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