Rainbow corn: biodiversity in a multicolored panicle

 Just open a cob of rainbow corn to understand that it is not genetically modified maize but it has a totally natural origin!

 The particular variety of multicolored corn, fruit of the crosses of the ancient corn seeds planted by Native Americans, has become famous all over the world with the name of Glass Gem Corn because when you open a rainbow cob you have the feeling of opening a full chest  chock full of shiny and colorful gems.

 Find out how this special variety of multi-colored hybrid corn saved itself from extinction and why it is an extraordinary example of biodiversity.




 A Native American looking for his origins

 Glass Gem Corn: main characteristics of rainbow corn

 A Native American looking for his origins

 The history of rainbow corn is the surprising and extraordinary testimony of how an ancient variety of corn survived extinction thanks to the passion of an Oklahoma farmer, Carl Barnes, who wanted to preserve his past, the environment and biodiversity  .

 Carl Barnes, a descendant of the native Cherokee tribe, has studied the various stages of the cultivation of corn and the sacred rites that were part of this fundamental culture of feeding his tribe of origin from a young age.

 The American farmer, to find contact with his own people, went around the United States in search of those ancestral varieties of corn that had been lost at the beginning of the 19th century, when the Cherokee people moved to the territories  Oklahoma.

 Barnes has traced some seeds of incredibly ancient and particular species of corn, including some with multicolored corn on the cob and, after years of selecting different species of corn, has crossed the different varieties of corn and has created a variety whose grains have  the particularity of being of many bright colors.

 The worldwide success of this fascinating colored hybrid corn is due to the collaboration between Barnes, the farmer Greg Schoen and Bill McDorman, owner of a small seed farm.

 After sowing and creating gradually larger plantations of maize, more and more colorful thanks to the new crossings, the project started by Carl Barnes has become a non-profit organization, Native Seeds / SEARCH, which deals with the  preserve and market ancestral varieties grown from the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

 Glass Gem Corn: main characteristics of rainbow corn

 When the grains of harlequin Glass Gem Corn are fresh, they take on many very bright colors, from yellow to orange from green to pink but also shades of purple and blue, but when they dry out and lose the water previously contained, the brightness that gives them  features disappears to make way for romantic pastel shades.

 Cultivating Glass Gem Corn does not require any special precautions compared to the cultivation of common corn and the grains are edible even if the outer shell of the rainbow corn is much harder than the classic supermarket corn so it is not suitable for steaming,  boiled and served simply with butter and salt.

 Harlequin corn, due to its high starch content, is therefore mainly used for the preparation of flour and for making popcorn.

 Are you wondering if the colored corn popcorn is also of many rainbow shades?

 Unfortunately, the answer is no because the color is enclosed in the peel of the grain and not in the “starchy” interior that swells and then blows it up!


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