The Q&A Archives: Blue Corn With Unusual Tassles

Question: My mom sent me some blue corn seeds when she was on vacation in Arizona. I planted them and they are growing tall and strong, but my question is about some of the tassels. Some of them are normal like any other corn tassels I have ever seen, but some started growing what appeared to be silk on them and as they grew they even developed corn seeds. So some of the tassels have about half corn seeds on top of the tassel and normal looking tassel structure at the base of the tassel. The seed look just like corn kernels (sp?) but they just grew right where it should have been all tassel, is this condition normal for blue corn varieties?
Thank you for your time and consideration

Richard Hudson

Answer: It's an abnormal condition, caused by genetic confusion. The tassels are the male parts of the plant. These produce pollen which generally falls down onyo the silks of the developing ears. Each kernel within an ear is attached to a pair of silks. Pollen travels down each silk to fertilize the potential kernel. When complete fertilization takes place, it results in a plump kernel. When pollination is poor, ears of corn will not have straight rows of kernels, but will have some gaps between kernels or missing rows of kernels. Now, back to your confused corn. It seems to want to produce seeds right at the tassel instead of in the ear. You can cut these off the plants, or if you're curious, allow them to grow. These plants may or may not develop ears of corn along the stalk. I don't think I'd save the seeds from these plants!

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