Corn – Zea mays

'Indian' Corn
‘Indian’ Corn

 

WHEN the corn’s all cut and the bright stalks shine
Like the burnished spears of a field of gold;
When the field-mice rich on the nubbins dine,
And the frost comes white and the wind blows cold;
Then it ‘s heigho! fellows and hi-diddle-diddle,
For the time is ripe for the corn-stalk fiddle.

 

By Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1905)

 

Another gift to the world from the New World. This grass was cultivated in Meso-America. It was the most useful and relied upon grain in pre-Columbian North America, MesoAmerica, South America and the Caribbean.  During the first century AD cultivation of maize spread into the southeastern US. In the areas it was common corn performed a significant number of jobs for the people of the time…it was food, and medicine; it was used in magic and religion…It was most important.

 

Corn was used in folk medicine as a diuretic and a mild stimulant. It has been used as a poultice for ulcers, swellings, and rheumatic pain. An infusion of corn helps with nausea and vomiting.

 

The fresh corn seeds can be eaten by simply boiling them for a short time. Grilling them in their own husk (with the silk removed, and the husk restored) will cause a sweet smoky taste. The dried seed is ground into flour that can make bread, cereal, tortillas, etc. They can also make hominy, grits, popcorn, and so much more.

 

Corn has been worshipped by the Cherokee as the mother goddess, or the corn goddess. There were several major festivals surrounding corn in the Cherokee spiritual cycle…Corn Dance (May – for the planting), Green Corn Ceremony (June – first corn), and the Ripe Corn Ceremony (July – fully ripe corn).

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