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. Mexican sunflower origin is determined

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Tallahassee, Fla., April 29, 2008
U.S. and Mexican scientists have determined ancient farmers were growing sunflowers in Mexico more than 4,000 years before the Spaniards arrived.

Florida State University scientist Mary Pohl and David Lentz of the University of Cincinnati said their evidence confirms farmers began growing sunflowers in Mexico by 2600 B.C. That contradicts the belief of some scientists that sunflowers were first domesticated as an agricultural crop in eastern North America, with the Spaniards introducing the sunflower to Mexico from further north.

"The evidence shows that sunflower was actually domesticated twice -- in Mexico and then again hundreds of miles away in the Middle Mississippi Valley," Pohl said. She argues that after the Spanish Conquest, the Spaniards tried to suppress cultivation of the sunflower because of its association with solar religion and warfare.

The study that included Jose Luis Alvarado from Mexico's Institute of Anthropology and History, Robert Bye from the Independent National University of Mexico and UC graduate student Somayeh Tarighatis appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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