Few people pay attention to parts of a corn stalk, ignorant of how these seemingly trivial plants are critical in providing proper agricultural resources.
That is why I decided to write this insightful guide to offer more information about them. Keep scrolling to learn all there is to know!
What Is A Corn Stalk?
Cornstalks (also named mass plants, corn plants, or Dracaena fragrans in scientific studies) are flowering plants from tropical African regions and belong to the Asparagaceae line.
Most of these corn plants sprout one single stem (or stalk, which inspires its current name) growing upward vertically from the soil.
Though there are questions about the stalk’s height, experts cannot give you a proper estimation.
After all, the number significantly depends on numerous factors, particularly the corn variety and its growing environment.
Once the stalk has fully grown, the green corn leaves will emerge. They are ribbon-like, flat, and long, extending along the stalks alternately.
What Are Parts Of A Corn Stalk? The Anatomy Of A Corn Plant
The main parts of a cornstalk are stalk, tassels, leaves, silk, husk, corn ears, roots, consecutive nodes, and kernels. This section will detail each of them.
As with similar plants, stalks are the main part of any cornstalk – arguably the most critical function, as it supports the entire plant.
Tassels is the male part of flower, containing corn pollen, grow on top of a cornstalk and resemble five fingers.
The pollen clings to the silks and runs along the ovaries of corn. Without tassels and pollen grains, the cornstalk can never have its corn ovaries fertilized and produce new corn as a result.
Each corn plant has 16 to 19 green leaves in total on the stalks, 5 of which fall before tassels.
Their numerous leaves are long, growing outwards and outwards to create the impression of a very huge-looking plant. They also catch sunlight and help carry out the photosynthesis process.
“Silk” refers to the hollow tube stemming from the ear’s ovary. I recognize it easily, thanks to the brown and long strands on top of the ear that extends to the outside.
Each silk kernel (which I will return to later) pairs with its respective strand to speed up the corn pollination process.
Also called “corn hull,” husks are the green, leafy part covering the corn ear. They serve as protective layers against external elements, such as dust, weather, insects, and animals.
As ears of corn are still sellable without husks, beginners usually get confused about what exactly is “corn ears.” (again, an issue that I will eventually get to – right after finishing with this one).
Despite being edible, husks do not enjoy the same popularity as other corn parts. They are most common in cuisines that require flavor addition or ingredient wrapping.
Corn ears are where the kernels are stored. Though debates about what exact parts are “corn ears” still go on, the two most popular types of corn ear definitions are:
- The hard central part and surrounding kernels
- The hard central part, kernels, silk, and husks surrounding
Corn roots, the base of a corn plant, thrive in two different sections: prop roots and crown roots, both of which have to be managed carefully to ensure your plants do not pool most of their energy into root growth (rather than the grains).
- Crown roots: feeding nutrients and water to the corn plants. They are beneath the soil and also serve as the plant’s anchor.
- Prop roots (or brace roots): growing atop the soil to provide extra plant support. They do not really add any new nutrients.
Although aboveground nodes are not considered a noticeable part, their essence must be noted.
They are small areas on the stalk/stem that look like tiny bumps at first. These distinguishable node bumps eventually grow into a tassel, corn ear, root, or leaf, helping shape and form the plants.
Wrapping up my list are the kernels, which are the corn seeds/fruits attached tightly to the corn plant’s hardcore. Their main function is to produce a new corn plant!
Each kernel contains tip caps, pericarp, germ, and endosperm:
- Tip caps: attached to the kernel’s corn cob to transfer nutrients and water for corn development.
- Pericarp (fruit wall): covering and protecting the kernel. This protective layer acts as a barrier to maintain nutrients and moisture levels.
- Germ: The corn’s sole living part, containing all genetic information, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins – basically all you need to grow the plant!
- Endosperm: accounting for 82% of kernels’ overall dry weight, the most used element inside the kernel. These tissues nourish and urge the corn plant’s future stage of development.
What Can I Do With Cornstalks?
Field corn stalks have more applications than just a type of delicious vegetable for human foods. After corn production and harvesting, I often use these plants for:
- Feed for animals: While cornstalks lag behind other feeding sources in nutritional values, they can still contribute significantly to ruminant animals’ diets, such as goats or cattle.
- Animal bedding: Chopped, dried flour corn stalks are wonderful bedding materials for your livestock. They provide insulation and absorb moisture, ensuring your animals stay dry and warm.
- Compost: When mixed with materials like kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves, and coconut mulch, cornstalks can deliver nutrient-rich and high-quality compost to improve soil fertility and structure.
Remember to use it with organic materials only. Toxic substances like gasoline, while effectively killing bug nests, might poison the soil.
- Decorations: In harvest festivals and autumn seasons, flint corn stalks are more needed than ever for decorative purposes. These yellow corn plants could be customized for ornamental displays, wreaths, bundles, etc.
Is There Any Harm If You Give Horses Parts of Corn Stalk/ Ear of Corn?
How Long Does It Take For Corn Plant Parts To Decompose?
Corn stalk parts decompose much faster than any similar plant or compost materials. They only take about two to three months.
My guide has delved into all major parts of a corn stalk, with a comprehensible anatomy of corn plants that should not confuse anyone, even beginners.
Still, if you struggle with your corn crop or parts of a corn plant, please get in touch with me and my team.