Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 68.djvu/59

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WHAT IS AN EAR OF CORN?

WHAT IS AN EAR OF CORN?
By E. G. MONTGOMERY

THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA

IT is generally thought that corn (Zea mays) originated from some plant like teosinte (Euchlæna), and that the ear is the result of the fusing together of a number of two-rowed pistillate spikelets, such as are found in Euchlæna. Hackel[1] evidently holds this view, for he describes the pistillate flowers of corn as being similar to those of Euchlæna and borne on spikes, except that "the pistillate spikes (originally by monstrous or teratological development?) are grown together into a spongy continuous club-shaped body (the 'cob') upon which the four to eleven double rows (each sessile upon a low longitudinal

PSM V68 D059 Evolution of a corn tassel into an ear.png
Fig. 1. Photograph showing Steps of Evolution of the Corn Tassel into an Ear.

elevation, that is limited by a long, shallow furrow on each side) correspond to a single spike of Euchlæna." This view is also accepted by Harshberger,[2] who made a careful study of the corn plant, and I believe is the theory generally accepted as to the origin of the corn ear.


  1. Hackel, 'The True Grasses' (trans, by Scribner and Southworth), page 38.
  2. Maize, 'Contributions from the Botanical Laboratories of the University of Pennsylvania, pp. 75-202, 1803.