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Zea mays

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Plant Profile

Poaceae (Grass)
Also in this family:
Alpine Catstail, Alpine Foxtail, Alpine Meadow-grass, Annual Beard-grass, Annual Meadow-grass, Arrow Bamboo, Barren Brome Grass, Bearded Couch Grass, Bearded Fescue, Bermuda Grass, Black Bent, Black Grass, Blue Fescue, Blue Moor-grass, Bog Hair-grass, Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass, Bread Wheat, Bristle Bent, Brown Bent, Brown Sedge, Bulbous Foxtail, Bulbous Meadow-grass, California Brome Grass, Canary Grass, Carnation Sedge, Cocksfoot, Cockspur, Common Bent, Common Cord-grass, Common Millet, Common Reed, Common Saltmarsh Grass, Compact Brome Grass, Couch Grass, Creeping Bent, Creeping Soft-grass, Crested Dog's-tail, Crested Hair-grass, Cultivated Oat, Curved Hard Grass, Cut Grass, Dense Silky Bent, Downy Oat-grass, Drooping Brome Grass, Drooping Tor Grass, Dune Fescue, Early Hair-grass, Early Meadow-grass, Early Sand-grass, False Brome Grass, False Oat-grass, Fern Grass, Fine-leaved Sheep's Fescue, Flattened Meadow-grass, Floating Sweet-grass, Foxtail Barley, French Oat, Giant Fescue, Glaucous Meadow-grass, Great Brome Grass, Greater Quaking Grass, Grey Hair-grass, Hairy Brome Grass, Hairy Finger-grass, Hard Fescue, Hard Grass, Harestail Grass, Heath Grass, Holy Grass, Hybrid Marram Grass, Italian Rye Grass, Knotroot Bristlegrass, Lesser Hairy Brome Grass, Lesser Quaking Grass, Loose Silky Bent, Lyme Grass, Marram Grass, Marsh Foxtail, Mat Grass, Mat-grass Fescue, Meadow Barley, Meadow Fescue, Meadow Foxtail, Meadow Oat-grass, Mountain Melick, Narrow-leaved Meadow-grass, Narrow-leaved Small-reed, Neglected Couch Grass, Nit Grass, Orange Foxtail, Pampas Grass, Perennial Rye Grass, Plicate Sweet-grass, Purple Moor-grass, Purple Small-reed, Purple-stem Catstail, Quaking Grass, Ratstail Fescue, Red Fescue, Reed Canary Grass, Reed Sweet-grass, Reflexed Saltmarsh Grass, Rescue Grass, Rough Meadow-grass, Rush-leaved Fescue, Sand Catstail, Sand Couch Grass, Scandinavian Small-reed, Scottish Small-reed, Sea Barley, Sea Couch Grass, Sea Fern Grass, Sheep's Fescue, Silver Hair-grass, Six-rowed Barley, Slender Brome Grass, Small Cord-grass, Small Sweet-grass, Smaller Catstail, Smooth Brome Grass, Smooth Cord-grass, Smooth Finger-grass, Smooth Meadow-grass, Soft Brome Grass, Somerset Hair-grass, Sorghum, Spreading Meadow-grass, Squirreltail Fescue, Stiff Brome Grass, Stiff Saltmarsh Grass, Sweet Vernal Grass, Tall Fescue, Timothy Grass, Tor Grass, Tufted Hair-grass, Two-rowed Barley, Upright Brome Grass, Velvet Bent, Viviparous Fescue, Wall Barley, Wavy Hair-grass, Wavy Meadow-grass, Whorl Grass, Wild Oat, Wood Barley, Wood Fescue, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Yellow Oat-grass, Yorkshire Fog
Life Cycle:
Annual or Perennial
Maximum Size:
3 metres tall
Fields, grassland, heathland, seaside, wetland, woodland.

Red, no petals
Male tassle-like flowers on the ends of branches. Female flowers with very long styles appear lower down on lateral branches. Both male and female flowers grow up to 20cm in length.
Yellow. Individual seeds or fruit which make up the corn cob and are known as the caryopsis. These are arranged in rows of up to 40 and are covered by the leaf husk.
The leaves of maize, or corn are broad and elongated, showcasing a vibrant green hue during the growing season. Each leaf has a prominent midrib running through its center, giving it a distinct ribbed appearance. The edges of the leaves may exhibit a serrated or slightly wavy pattern. As the plant matures, the leaves form a dense canopy, providing shade to the developing ears of corn. Overall, the leaves contribute to the plant's lush and expansive appearance in the agricultural landscape of the United Kingdom.
The fragrance of maize, or corn is generally subtle and earthy when encountered in its natural state, such as walking through a cornfield during the summer months. When cooked, whether as corn on the cob or as popcorn, it emits a more distinct aroma, with sweet and toasty notes, contributing to the sensory experience of enjoying this versatile crop in the United Kingdom.
Other Names:
Indian Corn, Maize.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Zea mays, also known as corn or maize, is a plant species in the Poaceae family. It is native to central and southern Mexico and parts of Central America, and is one of the most widely grown and important crops in the world. Corn is a tall, annual grass with large, green leaves and a central stem that bears clusters of yellow or white flowers. The plant is grown for its seeds, which are used as a grain and also ground to make cornmeal and other products. Corn is a staple food in many parts of the world, and is also used as livestock feed, as a biofuel, and in the production of a variety of other products such as sweeteners, oils, and plastics.


Corn: The Nutritious Staple of the Modern World

Corn, scientifically known as Zea mays, is one of the most widely cultivated and consumed crops in the world. It is a staple food for millions of people and is used in a variety of dishes, from traditional dishes like tortillas and grits to more modern uses like high fructose corn syrup and biofuels. But what makes this plant so special and important?

A Brief History of Corn

Corn is native to Central America and was first domesticated by indigenous peoples thousands of years ago. It was a critical part of their diet and was also used in religious ceremonies. When the Spanish arrived in the Americas, they brought corn back to Europe, where it quickly became a staple crop. Today, corn is grown in almost every country in the world and is used for both food and non-food purposes.

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Corn

Corn is a nutritious food that provides essential vitamins and minerals, including fiber, vitamin C, folate, and iron. It is also a good source of carbohydrates, which provide energy for the body.

In addition to its nutrient content, corn has been shown to have health benefits. For example, research has found that consuming corn may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. It may also aid in digestion, promote healthy skin, and support eye health.

Cultivation and Uses of Corn

Corn is an easy crop to grow and is adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions. It is typically planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. Corn can be grown in a variety of ways, including conventional, organic, and genetically modified methods.

Aside from being a staple food, corn is also used in a variety of non-food products, including biofuels, animal feed, and industrial products like plastics and textiles. The high fructose corn syrup produced from corn is used as a sweetener in many processed foods and drinks.

Environmental Impact of Corn Cultivation

Like any agricultural crop, corn production has an impact on the environment. One of the main concerns with corn cultivation is the use of pesticides and fertilizers. These chemicals can harm wildlife and pollute waterways, leading to long-term ecological damage. In addition, monoculture corn production, where large areas of land are dedicated to growing only one crop, can lead to soil degradation and reduced biodiversity.

Another issue with corn production is the use of irrigation, which can lead to over-extraction of groundwater and other water resources. This can cause water scarcity, particularly in regions where water is already scarce, and can also contribute to soil salinization.

However, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the environmental impact of corn cultivation. For example, farmers can use integrated pest management practices to minimize the use of pesticides and use cover crops to improve soil health and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. In addition, conservation tillage practices, such as no-till farming, can reduce soil erosion and help conserve water.

The Future of Corn

Despite its environmental impact, corn remains a critical crop for feeding the world's growing population. With the global population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, the demand for corn will only continue to grow. As a result, researchers and farmers are working to develop new and innovative methods for producing corn more sustainably.

One area of research is the development of drought-resistant and salt-tolerant varieties of corn, which would allow farmers to grow crops in regions that are currently unsuitable for agriculture. In addition, scientists are exploring ways to use biotechnology to improve the nutritional content of corn and make it a more efficient source of food.

Overall, the future of corn looks bright. With continued research and innovation, it is likely that this versatile and nutritious crop will continue to play a key role in feeding the world for many years to come.

Genetically Modified Corn

One of the most controversial topics in modern corn production is the use of genetically modified (GM) corn. GM corn is a type of corn that has had its DNA altered in a laboratory to give it specific traits, such as resistance to pests and herbicides. The goal of GM corn is to increase crop yields and reduce the need for pesticides and other chemicals.

While GM corn has been shown to have some benefits, such as increased yields and reduced use of pesticides, it is also associated with a number of potential risks. For example, there are concerns about the long-term impact of GM crops on the environment, including the potential spread of GM genes to wild relatives and the development of herbicide-resistant weeds.

Another concern with GM corn is its potential impact on human health. Some studies have suggested that consuming GM crops may be associated with health problems, such as allergies and other health issues. However, the safety of GM crops is still the subject of ongoing scientific research and debate.

The Future of GM Corn

Despite the ongoing debate about GM corn, it is likely to continue to play a role in modern agriculture. As the global population continues to grow and demand for food increases, farmers will need to find ways to produce crops more efficiently and sustainably. GM corn has the potential to contribute to this goal, as long as the potential risks are carefully considered and addressed.

In conclusion, GM corn is a type of corn that has been genetically modified in a laboratory to give it specific traits. While it has been shown to have some benefits, such as increased yields and reduced use of pesticides, it is also associated with a number of potential risks, including its impact on the environment and human health. The future of GM corn will likely depend on ongoing research and the development of new technologies that can address these concerns.

30 Facts About Corn

  1. Scientific Name: Corn is scientifically known as Zea mays.

  2. Origins: Corn originated in Mesoamerica and was first domesticated by indigenous peoples in southern Mexico around 10,000 years ago.

  3. Versatility: Corn is a highly versatile crop and is used for various purposes, including food, animal feed, and industrial products.

  4. Types of Corn: There are different types of corn, including sweet corn, field corn, popcorn, and decorative corn used for ornamental purposes.

  5. Cultivation Area: Corn is grown on every continent except Antarctica. The United States is the largest producer of corn in the world.

  6. C4 Plant: Corn is a C4 plant, which means it uses a specialized type of photosynthesis that allows it to thrive in hot and arid conditions.

  7. Nutritional Value: Corn is a good source of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins (such as B vitamins), and minerals (including phosphorus and magnesium).

  8. Genetic Diversity: There is a wide genetic diversity among corn varieties, leading to differences in color, size, and taste.

  9. Genetic Modification: Many varieties of corn have been genetically modified for traits such as pest resistance and herbicide tolerance.

  10. Cultural Importance: Corn has significant cultural importance for many indigenous communities in the Americas.

  11. Corn Belt: The term "Corn Belt" refers to the region in the United States where corn is a major agricultural product, including states like Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana.

  12. Pollen Production: Corn is known for its large tassels, which produce pollen. Each silk on the ear of corn corresponds to a potential kernel.

  13. Economic Impact: Corn plays a crucial role in the global economy, serving as a staple food for many and a major commodity for international trade.

  14. Harvest Time: Corn is typically harvested in the late summer or early fall, depending on the variety and local climate.

  15. Crop Rotation: Farmers often use corn in crop rotation because it helps break pest cycles and improves soil fertility.

  16. Ethanol Production: A significant portion of corn is used to produce ethanol, which is used as a biofuel.

  17. Popcorn Popping: Popcorn is a type of corn with a hard outer shell, and when heated, the moisture inside the kernel turns to steam, causing it to pop.

  18. Culinary Uses: Corn is used in various culinary dishes, including cornbread, polenta, tortillas, and corn-based snacks.

  19. Symbolism: Corn has symbolic importance in various cultures, representing fertility, sustenance, and agricultural abundance.

  20. Ancient Grains: Corn is considered one of the "Three Sisters" in Native American agriculture, along with beans and squash, as these crops were traditionally planted together for mutual benefit.

  21. Pioneer Crop: Corn played a crucial role in the diets of early European settlers in North America.

  22. Insect Pollination: Corn is primarily wind-pollinated, but bees and other insects may also contribute to pollination.

  23. Global Production: In addition to the United States, other major corn-producing countries include China, Brazil, Argentina, and India.

  24. Staple Food: In many parts of the world, corn is a staple food, consumed in various forms such as tortillas, grits, and porridge.

  25. Dent Corn: Dent corn is the most widely grown type of corn and is often used for animal feed and industrial purposes.

  26. Corn Husks: The husks of corn are used for various purposes, including tamales and corn husk dolls.

  27. Storage: Corn can be dried and stored for long periods, making it a valuable crop for food security.

  28. Environmental Impact: Corn cultivation has both positive and negative environmental impacts, including soil erosion and the conservation of biodiversity.

  29. Health Benefits: Corn contains antioxidants and may contribute to heart health and digestive health.

  30. Corn Silk Uses: Corn silk, the threads found inside the husk, is used in traditional medicine in some cultures for its diuretic properties and potential health benefits.


Corn filmed at Duxbury Gardens in Lancashire on the 16th September 2023.


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