Botanical Name: Zea Mays
Species: Z. mays
Subspecies: Z. mays subsp. mays
Common Name: Corn
Habitat: Zea Mays or maize is native to South America; also cultivated in other parts of America, in the West Indian Islands, Australia, Africa, India, etc., and now in France and many other countries in the world.
Zea Mays is a monoecious plant. Male flowers in terminal racemes; spikelets, two-flowered glumes nearly equal, herbaceous, terminating in two sharp points; females, axillary in the sheaths of the leaves. The spikes or ears proceed from the stalls at various distances from the ground, and are closely enveloped in several thin leaves, forming a sheath called the husk; the ears consist of a cylindrical substance, a pith called the cob; on this the seeds are ranged in eight rows, each row having thirty or more seeds. From the eyes or germs of the seeds proceed individual filaments of a silky appearance and bright green colour; these hang from the point of the husk and are called ‘the silk.’ The use of these filaments or stigmata is to receive the farina which drops from the flowers, and without which the flowers would produce no seed. As soon as this has been effected, the tops and ‘the silk’ dry up. The maize grains are of varying colour – usually yellow, but often ranging to black.
A coarse annual, culms 60-80 cm high, straight, internodes cylindrical in the upper part, alternately grooved on the lower part with a bud in the groove. The stem is filled with pith. Leaf-blades broad. Has separate staminate (male) and pistillate (female) inflorescences. The staminate inflorescence is a tassel borne at the apex, the pistillate flowers occur as spikes (cobs) rising from axils of the lower leaves. The ovary develops a long style or silk which extends from the cob and receives the pollen from the tassel.
Requires a warm position a well drained soil and ample moisture in the growing season[16, 33]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 to 6.8. Requires a rich soil if it is to do well. Corn is widely cultivated for its edible seed, especially in tropical and warm temperate zones of the world, there are many named varieties. Unfortunately, the plant is not frost tolerant and so needs to be started off under glass in Britain if a reasonable crop is to be grown. There are five main types:- Sweetcorn is of fairly recent development. It has very sweet, soft-skinned grains that can be eaten raw or cooked before they are fully ripe. Cultivars have been developed that can produce a worthwhile crop even in the more northerly latitudes of Britain if a suitable warm sunny sheltered site is chosen K. Popcorn is a primitive form with hard-skinned grains. When roasted, these grains ‘explode’ to form the popular snack ‘popcorn’. Waxy corn is used mainly in the Far East. It has a tapioca-like starch. Flint corn, which shrinks on drying, can have white, yellow, purple, red or blue-black grains. It is not so sweet and also takes longer to mature so is a problematic crop in Britain. There are many other uses for this plant as detailed below. Dent corn has mostly white to yellow grains. This and Flint corn are widely grown for oils, cornflour, cereals and silage crops. Corn grows well with early potatoes, legumes, dill, cucurbits and sunflowers, it dislikes growing with tomatoes.
Seed – sow April in individual pots in a greenhouse. Grow on quickly and plant out after the last expected frosts. A direct outdoor sowing, especially of some of the less sweet varieties, can be tried in May.
Edible Parts: Oil; Oil; Pollen; Seed; Stem.
Edible Uses: Coffee; Oil; Oil.
Seed – raw or cooked. Corn is one of the most commonly grown foods in the world. The seed can be eaten raw or cooked before it is fully ripe and there are varieties especially developed for this purpose (the sweet corns) that have very sweet seeds and are delicious. The mature seed can be dried and used whole or ground into a flour. It has a very mild flavour and is used especially as a thickening agent in foods such as custards. The starch is often extracted from the grain and used in making confectionery, noodles etc. The dried seed of certain varieties can be heated in an oven when they burst to make ‘Popcorn’. The seed can also be sprouted and used in making uncooked breads and cereals. A nutritional analysis is available. The fresh succulent ‘silks’ (the flowering parts of the cob) can also be eaten. An edible oil is obtained from the seed, it is an all-purpose culinary oil that is frequently used as a food in salads and for cooking purposes. The pollen is used as an ingredient of soups. Rich in protein, it is harvested by tapping the flowering heads over a flat surface such as a bowl. Harvesting the pollen will actually help to improve fertilisation of the seeds. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute. The pith of the stem is chewed like sugar cane and is sometimes made into a syrup
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Seed (Fresh weight)
*361 Calories per 100g
*Water : 10.6%
*Protein: 9.4g; Fat: 4.3g; Carbohydrate: 74.4g; Fibre: 1.8g; Ash: 1.3g;
*Minerals – Calcium: 9mg; Phosphorus: 290mg; Iron: 2.5mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 140mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.43mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.1mg; Niacin: 1.9mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
Part Used in Medicines: The Seeds.
Constituents: Starch, sugar, fat, salts, water, yellow oil, maizenic acid, azotized matter, gluten, dextrine, glucose, cellulose, silica, phosphates of lime and magnesia, soluble salts of potassa and soda.
A decoction of the leaves and roots is used in the treatment of strangury, dysuria and gravel. The corn silks are cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, lithontripic, mildly stimulant and vasodilator. They also act to reduce blood sugar levels and so are used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus as well as cystitis, gonorrhoea, gout etc. The silks are harvested before pollination occurs and are best used when fresh because they tend to lose their diuretic effect when stored and also become purgative. A decoction of the cob is used in the treatment of nose bleeds and menorrhagia. The seed is diuretic and a mild stimulant. It is a good emollient poultice for ulcers, swellings and rheumatic pains, and is widely used in the treatment of cancer, tumours and warts. It contains the cell-proliferant and wound-healing substance allantoin, which is widely used in herbal medicine (especially from the herb comfrey, Symphytum officinale) to speed the healing process. The plant is said to have anticancer properties and is experimentally hypoglycaemic and hypotensive.
Adhesive; Fuel; Oil; Oil; Packing; Paper.
A glue is made from the starch in the seed. This starch is also used in cosmetics and the manufacture of glucose. A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. It has many industrial uses, in the manufacture of linoleum, paints, varnishes, soaps etc. The corn spathes are used in the production of paper, straw hats and small articles such as little baskets. A fibre obtained from the stems and seed husks is used for making paper. They are harvested in late summer after the seed has been harvested, they are cut into usable pieces and soaked in clear water for 24 hours. They are then cooked for 2 hours in soda ash and then beaten in a ball mill for 1½ hours in a ball mill. The fibres make a light greenish cream paper. Be careful not to overcook the fibre otherwise it will produce a sticky pulp that is very hard to form into paper. The dried cobs are used as a fuel. The pith of the stems is used as a packing material
In addition to use as a human food, the seed head and whole plant are used forage and silage, an important source of feed for livestock. Corn has become an increasingly important biofuel, both in the form of corn oil (used as bio-diesel) and ethanol (an alcohol fermented and distilled from the processed kernels), which is blended with petroleum-based gasoline in various proportions for use as fuel.
With Although grown in temperate and tropical countries worldwide, the U.S. alone produces more than one third of the global total of dried corn (316.2 metric tons), with China, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina also producing significant amounts. Corn production increased by 42% worldwide over the past decade, associated with the increased demand and prices for corn as biofuel.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.