Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Crazy Corn

Just because I can't work in the garden at the moment doesn't mean I have to stay out of it. Actually, I'm supposed to get off my butt and take a stroll now and then, so I walk to the garden, walk around the garden, walk around the house, walk to the garden, walk around the garden, walk around the house... And I resist the temptation to pull weeds, or pick up the hose, or bend down to take a closer look - I'm being a good girl and following doctor's orders. But my camera weighs less than 5 pounds so it can come along for the stroll. 

I was busy admiring the stand of Cascade Ruby Gold flint corn this morning. It started tasseling a couple of weeks ago. Look at that pretty boy, just loaded with pollen and shedding like crazy well ahead of the arrival of...

the pretty girls. This girl has a particularly luxuriant silky mane.

I'm thrilled to see that there are ears developing and a number of the stalks have at least 2 ears and there's a few stalks with 3 ears. Good Girls. They've been helped along by the mild temperatures and persistent breeze that we've been experiencing lately. Did you know that corn "flowers", i.e. tassels and silks, both start as perfect flowers. Perfect flowers have both male and female parts. But at some point in their development the male parts abort in what will become the ears and the female parts abort in what will become the tassels.

Usually. Every once in a while they both develop and the plant produces a tassel-ear. Crazy.

I had to look this one up, I've never seen such a thing before. The ear is growing at the tip of the main tassel stem and the weight of it is pulling it down. Tassel-ears usually develop at the tip of a tiller (side shoot) along the edge of the corn patch and indeed this is on one of the tillers on the plant that is in the corner of the patch. There's another tassel-ear on a tiller of a plant in another corner of the patch but it is too high on the plant for me to be able to photograph it. My understanding is that the tassel ear kernels can become fully developed but since they have no protective husk they usually get munched before they mature. I'm going to keep an eye on this oddball.


  1. Oh weird, I've never seen this before. My corn is tasseling at the moment. I'm not so optimistic about my corn this year. I got greedy and planted them too close together. The ears will be much smaller than usual. :(

  2. That is one strange ear of corn. Those tassels are so beautiful - I haven't grown corn in many, many years, so it's been a while since I've seen a corn plant up close. I love quirks of nature like this...they are just fascinating.

  3. I've seen that on other other person's blog years ago. I've never seen it in my own garden though. Very weird.

  4. That tassel ear is a new one on me! Thanks for sharing the great photos. When I lived on the farm, in summer I was usually surrounded on 3 sides by the field corn. When the pollen started ripening, the aroma was overpowering, in a good way. Not so good if you have allergies though.

  5. Very interesting. I love to see a few oddballs amongst the "regular" plants.

  6. I am growing corn this year for the first time, so interested in any details I can get. But mine are only 18 inches tall or so. Not sure if it's something I've done or just the weather here in Ontario, Canada. I guess I'll figure it out as I go but yours look lovely to me!!

  7. That is bizarre, I have never seen that. Good luck protecting that from the rats and birds. But maybe rats can't climb?

  8. Very interesting photo, thanks for sharing, never seen one like that before.

  9. worked in a health food store before and found out that corn silk has therapeutic benefits http://www.cornsilk.org/Cornsilk-Tea-Benefits/. I made some mild tea by adding some freshly harvested, unexposed corn silk to 2 cups of water and left overnight in the fridge. I drank half a cup at room temperature throughout the day. It also acts as a diuretic, so I chose a day to remain at home. The result was amazing.
    Lovely pictures, reminded me of childhood years growing in the front yard.


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