A-maize-ing Corn

Corn plant

Hello Everyone! I’m a corn plant in a corn garden and I’ll be your corn guide for this Nature Detectives pullout! What’s a corn garden? A block of corn plants all growing together in someone’s backyard or an empty lot or at a community center. All corn plants like to grow up together–the more the better!

How Does Corn Grow Up?

When the soil warms up in the spring, the gardeners take handfuls of corn seeds and plant them in the ground. What are corn seeds? You have seen them many times–the kernels from corn cobs! Not cooked, of course. Dried in fall and winter on the cob, then shelled and planted in spring.

Embryo–The Plant in Miniature

Corn kernel

Each corn kernel seed is a sac full of nourishing goodness for the mini corn plant-to-be, called the embryo. Our mother corn plants have made sure to put some of their own microbes in and on our seed coats to help us grow and be healthy.

Tassels, Corn Flowers and Pollen

After a few days or weeks the first leaves of the baby corn plant in the tiny embryo unfurl, green and shining in the morning sun. A growing corn plant can unfurl a new leaf every few days! The leaves reach out to the sun and make food from its light. After a couple of weeks or months, depending on the kind of corn, many leaves rustle in the breeze.

It is then the tiny corn flowers flower along the tassels, the pollen-bearing parts at the top of the corn plant and side shoots. Hanging like acrobats from the corn flowers is the bright pollen, ready to drop onto a corn silk and fertilize it to make new baby corn seeds, kernels.

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