When learning about where babies come from, we were all told the famous “Birds and the Bees” story to help understand the complicated truth about how babies are made.
Like other things in nature, corn also has a story about how its “babies” are made. Only this story is much easier to explain and much easier to understand.
Just to clarify, corn’s “babies” are the kernels. In sweet corn, kernels are the part you eat.
Every corn plant has both male and female parts.
The male part is the tassel. The tassel is the part of the plant that emerges from the top. The tassel usually consists of several branches which have many small flowers on them.
The female part is the ear. The ear develops on the corn stalk, in which, can produce several ears but the uppermost ear becomes the largest. Before the female ear has been fertilized by the male tassel, the ear consists of a cob, eggs (that will become kernels after pollination) and silks. From each egg, a silk grows and emerges from the tip of the husk. (The husk is the group of leaves that cover the entire ear.)
(Here is where things start to heat up.)
Each male flower releases a large number of pollen grains, each of which contain the male sex cell.
Pollination occurs when pollen falls on the exposed silks. After pollination, a male sex cell grows down each silk to a single egg and then fertilization starts to take place.
Fertilization is the joining of the male and female corn sex cells.
The fertilized egg develops into a kernel and inside each kernel is a single embryo (corn baby.)
A single ear of corn can produce hundreds of kernels.
That is how corn is made. Now go tell all your friends!