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Corn
Poaceae
Zea mays


Thunder
Thunder
Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb



Poaceae Family

Zea Genus
Other Names for this Plant

Maize, Giver of Life, Maize, Sacred Mother, Seed of Seeds, Selu (Cherokee name)


Location

Domesticated in Mesoamerica. Spread throughout the American continents, planted world wide for a cereal grain. Maize is widely cultivated throughout the world, and a greater weight of maize is produced each year than any other grain

Physical Description
Maize stems superficially resemble bamboo canes and the internodes can reach 20–30 centimeters (8–12 in). Maize has a very distinct growth form; the lower leaves being like broad flags, 50–100 centimetres long and 5–10 centimetres wide (2–4 ft by 2–4 in); the stems are erect, conventionally 2–3 metres (7–10 ft) in height, with many nodes, casting off flag-leaves at every node. Under these leaves and close to the stem grow the ears. They grow about 3 milimetres a day.
The ears are female inflorescences, tightly covered over by several layers of leaves, and so closed-in by them to the stem that they do not show themselves easily until the emergence of the pale yellow silks from the leaf whorl at the end of the ear. The silks are elongated stigmas that look like tufts of hair, at first green, and later red or yellow. Plantings for silage are even denser, and achieve an even lower percentage of ears and more plant matter. Certain varieties of maize have been bred to produce many additional developed ears, and these are the source of the "baby corn" that is used as a vegetable in Asian cuisine.
The apex of the stem ends in the tassel, an inflorescencee of male flowers. Each silk may become pollinated to produce one kernel of corn. Young ears can be consumed raw, with the cob and silk, but as the plant matures (usually during the summer months) the cob becomes tougher and the silk dries to inedibility. By the end of the growing season, the kernels dry out and become difficult to chew without cooking them tender first in boiling water. Modern farming techniques in developed countries usually rely on dense planting, which produces on average only about 0.9 ears per stalk because it stresses the plants.
The kernel of corn has a pericarp of the fruit fused with the seed coat, typical of the grasses. It is close to a multiple fruit in structure, except that the individual fruits (the kernels) never fuse into a single mass. The grains are about the size of peas, and adhere in regular rows round a white pithy substance, which forms the ear. An ear contains from 200 to 400 kernels, and is from 10–25 centimetres (4–10 inches) in length. They are of various colors: blackish, bluish-gray, red, white and yellow. When ground into flour, maize yields more flour, with much less bran, than wheat does. However, it lacks the protein gluten of wheat and, therefore, makes baked goods with poor rising capability and coherence.



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Poaceae
Poales
Poales
Commelinidae
Monocots
Monocots
One First-Leaves (Monocots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Maize was the staple food, or a major staple, of most the pre-Columbian, North American, Mesoamerican, South American, and Carabbean cultures. The Mesoamerican civilization was strengthened upon the field crop of maize; through harvesting it, its religious and spiritual importance and how it impacted their diet. Maize formed the Mesoamerican people’s identity. During the 1st millennium CE (AD), maize cultivation spread from Mexico into the U.S. Southwest and a millennium later into U.S. Northeast and southeastern Canada, transforming the landscape as Native Americans cleared large forest and grassland areas for the new crop.
Medicinal Uses: Diuretic and mild stimulant. A good emollient poultice for ulcers, swellings, rheumatic pains. An infusion of the parched corn allays nausea and vomiting in many diseases. Cornmeal makes a palatable and nutritious gruel and is an excellent diet for convalescents.

Stigmas from female corn flowers, known popularly as corn silk, are sold as herbal supplements.
Food Uses: Corn and cornmeal (corn flour) constitutes a staple food in many regions of the world. Corn meal is made into a thick porridge in many cultures: from the polenta of Italy, the angu of Brazil, the mamaliga of Romania, to mush in the U.S. or the food called sadza, nshima, ugali and mealie pap in Africa. Corn meal is also used as a replacement for wheat flour, to make cornbread and other baked products. Masa (cornmeal treated with lime water) is the main ingredient for tortillas, atole and many other dishes of Mexican food
Popcorn is kernels of certain varieties that explode when heated, forming fluffy pieces that are eaten as a snack
Other Notes: Pollen from corn was used to make rain by ancient Meso-American peoples, probably by tossing it into the air.
At one time, in the mountains of the United States, if a birth was difficult, red corncobs were burned on the door-step of the cabin (or even under the bed) to speed up the process.




Corn
Sweet Corn



Corn
Halloween Pennant Dragonfly resting on Corn top (showing anthers)



Corn
Corn plant showwing fertilized silk



Corn
Corn plant showing unfertilized silk



Corn
Indian Corn



Corn
Koehlers Medicinal-Plants 1887 [Image in Public Domain]

Comment: Corn, Zea mays

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