Introduction To Corn Plant
Corn (genus Zea), also known as Maize, is a flowering plant and is one of the most essential crops in the world. Corn comes from the grass family Poaceae which includes other economically important grasses such as wheat, oats and rye. It is mainly grown for its edible ears which yield kernels or seeds, which are fruits. Corn is the second most widely grown crop in the world and is used as livestock feed, human food, raw material in the industry and also for biofuel. It is interesting to know that everything on a corn plant, that is, its husk, its kernels and its stalk is usable and nothing is wasted.
Corn originated in America and was first domesticated in southern Mexico, about 10,000 years ago. Mexicans refer to themselves as “corn people”. It is one of the plants that can not grow in the wild and is, practically, a human invention that can survive only if planted and taken care of by humans. It was started from a wild grass called Teosinte. The Native Americans taught the European colonists how to cultivate corn and after the European continent was introduced to the plant by explorers such as Christopher Columbus, corn spread to all areas of the world. Traditionally, corn has been found to be placed on the gravestones of farmers, instead of bouquets. The word, “corn” has been used in texts as old as the bible, to refer to the grain in general and indicates spiritual goodness, symbolising fertility and rebirth.
Today corn is a staple crop in about 85% of the world. The basic kinds of corn are dent corn, used in food products and as livestock feed, pod corn, characterized by its pine cone like appearance because it has left around the kernels, flint corn, which is distinguished by a wide range of colours used for decoration during the harvest season,
popcorn, the popular cinema snack, sweet corn, a famed delicacy throughout the world served as a juicy treat in cups, flavoured with lime and spices or even on a stick, as the popular “corn on the cob” and flour corn, which is easily pressed and dried to obtain cornflour.
|Genus: Zea L.
|Species: Zea mays L.
- Corn is a tall annual grass with an average height of 15 feet.
- They have a stout and erect solid stem.
- The leaves of the plant are large and narrow, spaced alternately on either side of the stem.
- Corn is a monoecious plant which means that both male and female flowers grow on the
- The male flower grows on the tassel which is the tip or the terminating point of the main
the axis of the stem
- The female flowers grow on the corn ears and are the silk like threads that grow from the
- The ears are enclosed in modified leaves called husks.
Root System Of Corn Plant
The roots of a plant lay the foundation for that plant’s growth. The root system of any crop plant is significant in plant research to understand and support shoot growth while facilitating high yield production. The maize plant is a monocot and has a Fibrous root system. The roots of a maize plant may extend to about 1.5 meters laterally and up to 2 meters downwards.
The root system of a maize plant comprises of Embryonic Roots (the primary root and seminal roots) and Post-Embryonic Roots or Nodal Roots.
- The embryonic root system is dominant during the early stages of seedling development. The germinating seedling is covered in a protective structure during the very early stages of plant development. As the plant grows, “adventitious” seminal roots begin to grow from the stock just below the surface of the soil and the primary root itself breaks through the protective structure. The term “adventitious” is used to define growth from points where the plant has been wounded, but since it is common phenomena in the case of the maize plant such growth is not “adventitious”. The term is however still used to describe this growth. The adult rootstock is a shoot-borne rootstock.
- The Seminal roots grow from the stalk (shoot) of the plant above the soil and grow downwards into the soil in a stand like a manner. For this reason, they are also known as brace roots, as they help to support the plant and make it more sturdy.
- The primary and the seminal roots begin developing lateral roots, during later stages of the development which grows from various nodal points on the primary and seminal roots. In the beginning, given the orientation of the seminal roots, growth may take place in an upward or horizontal fashion but with the growth, they soon begin to bend downwards. Detasseling of corn is the process of removing the tassels or the male flowers from the top of the corn plants and placing them in the ground. This is done to control pollination. The purpose of detasseling is cross-breeding or hybridizing two varieties of corn. For instance, a dent corn plant may be detasseled in order to cross breed with the corn silk or female flower of flint corn to produce dent corn ears on a flint corn plant.
Uses Of Corn Plant
Corn has a wide variety of applications varying from food items, raw material in industry and business products across various sectors. Almost 25% of all items found in grocery stores use corn in some way
Some of the uses of the Corn are listed below:
- Hydrolysed corn protein is an active ingredient in hair conditioning products.
- Corn germ and oil are also skin conditioning agents.
- Corn acid and potassium cornate are cleansing agents while corn oil, corn glycerides and potassium cornate as well are emulsifying agents.
- Corn starch, which is known for its binding properties is an active ingredient in many minerals
- Corn is used in the manufacturing of plastics since it is cheaper than oil.
- Corn is used in the production of ethanol which is used in fuel cars. Corn starch is also a component used in batteries. This form of energy is referred to as “bioelectricity”.
- Corn starch is an active ingredient in matchsticks and corn is also found in corn-based pellets used in pellet stoves for home heating purposes.
- Textiles use corn as well in the production process.
- Corn base derivates are also used in the manufacturing of colouring crayons.
- Corn syrup is actively used as a substitute for sugar and along with how corn starch can be moulded, corn finds a place in candy production as well.
- Many adhesives use cornmeal and corn starch. Corn germ, which is obtained after the extraction of oil is used in the manufacture of industrial adhesives.
- The absorbent nature of corn starch also finds a place in diaper production.
- Corn starch is used as a binder in many medicines, be it a tablet’s coating or helping a pill maintain its structure
- Commercially distributed vitamin C is derived from corns.
- Corn silk is used as a medication for many ailments such as bladder infections, diabetes, heart diseases, fatigue and high blood pressure.
- Corn lacks gluten and for this reason, is especially recommended in places of foods that can cause gluten related inflammatory diseases such as thyroid.
- Corn is also recommended for women who would want to boost up estrogen levels.
Interesting Facts About Corn Plant
- Corn can be used in almost 3,500 different ways.
- The Corn plant is cultivated on every continent in the world except for Antarctica.
- Early North American settlers used corn as money to trade meat and furs.
- An acre of corn eliminates 8 tons of carbon dioxide from the air and over 90 million acres of land around the globe is dedicated to the cultivation of corn.
Green Corn Ceremony (Busk)
- This is an annual ceremony celebrated by Native Americans and is associated with the beginning of the yearly corn harvest. Busk was the term the white traders used in a discriminating manner referring to the Greek word “puskita” (pusketv) which means “the fast”.
- Baby corn is obtained from a corn plant in the early stages of development when the plant is still immature, typically when the stalk is still small and the second ear from the top just begins to develop the corn silk hairs.
- This is a delicacy around the world, especially in Chinese cuisine.