The Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve covers 1400 km² (roughly 350,000 acres) and is located in Southwest Jalisco on the border of Colima. In this mountainous complex over 2000 vegetable species have been registered of which some 20 are endemic. The fauna includes 330 bird species like woodpecker, raven, hummingbird, royal eagle among others. Some 200 mammal species like tlacuache (opossum), deer and large threatened felines like jaguar, puma, and ocelots along with more than 50 reptile, fish and amphibian species.
But when the Sierra de Manantlan Biosphere Reserve was created in 1987, it was not because of the wildlife or even the exotic flowers. Instead, the centerpiece of this ruggedly beautiful reserve is a scruffy, weedy plant, named teosinte, that if noticed at all would seem more like a blight than a natural treasure. Teosinte (pronounced tee-oh-SIN-tay) is a wild relative of corn, and this particular variety grows on 15 acres on Sierra de Manantlan and no where else in the world. It has genetic traits found in no other plants - traits that could prove vital to corn fields across the world. It has resistance to diseases that commonly afflict other varieties, and it is a perennial plant that - unlike most domesticated varieties - does not have to be replanted year in and year out.
Las Joyas research station that was established to protect the habitat around the discovery
Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve Map
Teosinte – maize’s wild ancestor