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Zea - L.

Common Name Sweet Corn, Corn
Family Poaceae or Gramineae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known in the wild.
Range Original habitat is obscure, probably S. America or Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Zea Sweet Corn,  	Corn

Zea Sweet Corn,  	Corn


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Zea is a ANNUAL growing to 2 m (6ft 7in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is frost tender. It is in flower from July to October, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.



Edible Uses

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[1, 2, 33, 34] and there are varieties especially developed for this purpose (the sweet corns) that have very sweet seeds and are delicious[183, K]. 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[183]. The starch is often extracted from the grain and used in making confectionery, noodles etc[183]. The dried seed of certain varieties can be heated in an oven when they burst to make 'Popcorn'[183]. The seed can also be sprouted and used in making uncooked breads and cereals[183]. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. The fresh succulent 'silks' (the flowering parts of the cob) can also be eaten[55, 183]. 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[13, 46, 183, 238]. The pollen is used as an ingredient of soups[183]. 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[K]. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[183]. The pith of the stem is chewed like sugar cane and is sometimes made into a syrup[183].

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;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

A decoction of the leaves and roots is used in the treatment of strangury, dysuria and gravel[218]. The corn silks are cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, lithontripic, mildly stimulant and vasodilator[4, 9, 165, 176, 218]. They also act to reduce blood sugar levels and so are used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus[9, 218] as well as cystitis, gonorrhoea, gout etc[222]. 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[9]. A decoction of the cob is used in the treatment of nose bleeds and menorrhagia[218]. The seed is diuretic and a mild stimulant[4]. It is a good emollient poultice for ulcers, swellings and rheumatic pains[4], and is widely used in the treatment of cancer, tumours and warts[218]. 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[222]. The plant is said to have anticancer properties and is experimentally hypoglycaemic and hypotensive[218].

Other Uses

A glue is made from the starch in the seed[13]. This starch is also used in cosmetics and the manufacture of glucose[61]. A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed[57]. It has many industrial uses, in the manufacture of linoleum, paints, varnishes, soaps etc[21, 61]. The corn spathes are used in the production of paper, straw hats and small articles such as little baskets[74, 171]. A fibre obtained from the stems and seed husks is used for making paper[189]. 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[189]. Be careful not to overcook the fibre otherwise it will produce a sticky pulp that is very hard to form into paper[189]. The dried cobs are used as a fuel[171]. The pith of the stems is used as a packing material[171].

Cultivation details

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[200]. Requires a rich soil if it is to do well[201]. Corn is widely cultivated for its edible seed, especially in tropical and warm temperate zones of the world[200], there are many named varieties[132]. 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[238, K. Popcorn is a primitive form with hard-skinned grains. When roasted, these grains 'explode' to form the popular snack 'popcorn'[238]. Waxy corn is used mainly in the Far East. It has a tapioca-like starch[238]. Flint corn, which shrinks on drying, can have white, yellow, purple, red or blue-black grains[238]. 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[18, 20, 201], it dislikes growing with tomatoes[20].


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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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Abado, Able, Aburow, Agbado, Awasi, Awi, Bara-jowar, Bhutta, Blefo, Bli, Buta, Chujak, Goinjol, Gomdhan, Igbado, Jagung, Janar, Jonar, Junri, Kaaba, Keto, Kolkoti, Kon,Kono, Kukri, Maka, Makai, Makka jonnalu, Makka-cholam, Makka, Makkai, Makkari, Makoi, Masara agwado, Massara, Mekkejola, Milho, Mokka-janna, Musukojola, Naham, Nyo, Oka, Oksusu, Shaa, Sil ni vavalagi, Ta-mank, Yu shu shu, ai, amylum maydis, awási, aya, corn, corn oi, 6 corn oil (unhydrogenated), corn silk, corn starch, corn syrup solids, corn|iringu, dent corn, dura shami, field corn, flint corn, gangnaengi, granoturco, indian corn, maidis stigma, mais, maiz, maiz, aceite, maize, maize oil, refined, maize starch, majs, maydis amylum, maydis oleum raffinatum, maydis stigma, maíz, maíz, aceite refinado, maîs, maïs, milho, ogsusu, oleum maydis, pelos de elafe, pod corn, popcorn, refined maize oil, risoy genime sami, stigmata maidis, styli cum stigmatis zeae maydis, sweet corn, topical starch, to-morokoshi, yu mi shu, yu mi xu, yu shu shu, zein, zorrat.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Albania, Algeria, Andes, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Arabia, Argentina, Armenia, Asia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Balkans, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Britain, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central Africa, Central African Republic, Central America, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo DR, Congo R, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Africa, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, France, French Guiana, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guiana, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea, Laos, Liberia, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico*, Moldova, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Africa, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Rwanda, Russia, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, St Lucia, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tasmania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, USA, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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Subject : Zea  
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