The founder crops (or primary domesticates) are the eight plant species that were domesticated by early Neolithic farming communities in southwest Asia, which formed the basis of systematic agriculture in the Middle East, North Africa, India, Persia and Europe. They consist of flax, three cereals and four pulses, and are the first known domesticated plants in the world. Although domesticated rye (Secale cereale) occurs in the final Epi-Palaeolithic strata at Tell Abu Hureyra (the earliest instance of domesticated plant species), it was insignificant in the Neolithic Period of southwest Asia and only became common with the spread of farming into northern Europe several millennia later.
This list applies mainly to agriculture in southwest Asia. Rice was cultivated at the Yangtze River in East Asia around the same time, peanuts, squashes, and cassavas had been domesticated in the New World, and other plants were used in southwest Asia such as figs.
- Emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum, descended from the wild T. dicoccoides)
- Einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum, descended from the wild T. boeoticum)
- Barley (Hordeum vulgare/sativum, descended from the wild H. spontaneum)
- Flax (Linum usitatissimum)
- Zohary, Daniel; Hopf, Maria; Weiss, Ehud (2012). Domestication of Plants in the Old World: The Origin and Spread of Domesticated Plants in Southwest Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean Basin (Fourth ed.). Oxford: University Press. p. 139..
- Hillman G., Hedges R., Moore A., Colledge S., Pettitt P. New evidence of late glacial cereal cultivation at Abu Hureyra on the euphrates (2001) Holocene, 11 (4), pp. 383-393
- G. Hillman. Late Pleistocene changes in wild plant-foods available to hunter-gatherers of the northern Fertile Crescent: possible preludes to cereal cultivation. In Harris, ed. The origins and spread of agriculture and pastoralism in Eurasia. 1996.
- "New Archaeobotanic Data for the Study of the Origins of Agriculture in China", Zhijun Zhao, Current Anthropology Vol. 52, No. S4, (October 2011), pp. S295-S306
- Olsen, KM; Schaal, BA (1999). "Evidence on the origin of cassava: phylogeography of Manihot esculenta". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 96 (10): 5586–91. Bibcode:1999PNAS...96.5586O. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.10.5586. PMC 21904. PMID 10318928