10 Types of Corn Plants

Types of Corn Plant list:

  1. Dent Corn
  2. Flint Corn
  3. Flour Corn
  4. Glass Gem Corn
  5. Hopi Blue Corn
  6. Peaches and Cream Corn
  7. Pod Corn
  8. Popcorn
  9. Oaxacan Green Dent Corn
  10. Sweet Corn

Are there different types of Corn Plants?

Corn has a long history of cultivation, having been domesticated by the indigenous peoples of Mexico around 10 thousand years ago. Not surprisingly, this long history of cultivation has given rise to a large array of varieties. There are now six main types of Corn, and thousands of hybrid varieties.

What are the six different types of Corn?

The six main kinds of Corn are Dent Corn, Flint Corn, Flour Corn, Pod Corn, Popcorn and Sweet Corn. Each of these different types of Corn can be recognised by the appearance of its kernels. They also have individual qualities that make them better for different uses, such as starch content.

The six main types of Corn are:

  1. Dent Corn
  2. Flint Corn
  3. Flour Corn
  4. Pod Corn
  5. Popcorn
  6. Sweet Corn

What kind of Corn is the sweetest?

There are many varieties of Sweet Corn that are known as “sugar-enchanced” due to how sweet their flavour is. To date, the sweetest cultivars are known as Supersweet Corn, however. Supersweet Corn produces a lot of sugar and very little starch, making it incredibly sweet at the time of harvest.

What kind of Corn is used in popcorn?

Popcorn is one of the main six types of Corn. When you buy popcorn, it is kernels that have been produced by a variety from this broad type. When compared to other types of corn, it has a fairly hard outer shell, and this is what makes it ideal for popping.

1. Dent Corn (Field Corn)

10 Types of corn plant
1. Dent Corn

This economically important category of Corn is extremely easy to recognize. As you might guess from the name, each kernel has a dent in it when the crop is matured. Other characteristics of Dent Corn are high starch content, and tall plants. The large size is of Dent Corn stalks is a result of the large ears that they produce – they have to be strong enough to hold them up until the end of the season.

In the US and many other Corn-producing countries, Dent Corn is the most grown variety, being used to make everything from ethanol to livestock feed. Another key product that Dent Corn is used to produce is high-fructose Corn syrup, a commonly used sweetener in American food products. In a garden setting, Dent Corn is a good choice to grow for ornamental purposes, given its height, but is not good for eating.

2. Flint Corn

Types of Corn Crop
2. Flint Corn

Flint Corn, also known as Calico Corn, has less starch and a much more appealing appearance than Dent Corn. The name for this type comes from the hard outer shell of its kernels, which has been compared to Flint – a notoriously hard stone. Most varieties of Flint Corn are highly ornamental, having red, black, blue, purple, or orange kernels.

Whilst it is true that Flint Corn is too hard to eat, it can release a very pleasant flavour if prepared correctly. To get this flavour, the kernels should be ground into Masa Harina, which is like very fine cornmeal. You can then use this to make tortillas, tamales or gorditas. You will find it adds a unique flavour to them.

3. Flour Corn

Types of Corn Cultivar
3. Flour Corn

Flour Corn comes in a great number of varieties – but what they have in common is soft, starchy, kernels. This high is what this type of Corn is cultivated for. It makes it ideal for grinding into Corn Flour (Corn Starch), hence the name. If you’ve ever eaten Corn Bread, you eaten Flour Corn.

Flour Corn is available in just as wide an array of colours as Flint Corn and can be grown for ornamental purposes if you wish. It is to research the variety you wish to buy, however, as some grow much larger than others, and may require a hot summer to reach their full potential.

4. Glass Gem Corn

Types of Corn Plant
4. Glass Gem Corn

Glass Gem Corn is perhaps the most stunning of all Flint Corn varieties. Its kernels come in a rainbow of colours, from blue to pink, and each has a slight translucency to it. The overall effect is that the ears literally look like they are coated in glass gems. Now produced by the Native Seeds SEARCH company, the Glass Gem is a fully organic variety – despite its unusual appearance.

Though there are several variations of the story, it is known that Carl Barnes, an Oklahoma farmer, selected to seeds for this cultivar from particularly bright ones passed down by his Native American ancestors. Glass Gem seeds are now available for sale online.

5. Hopi Blue Corn

Native American Corn varieties
5. Hopi Blue Corn

When we think of corn, bright yellow kernels usually come to mind. So, what could be more intriguing than a dark blue variety of the fruit? This is exactly what you’ll get if you grow the Hopi Blue variety. To the Hopi Native Americans, Corn, or Maize as it is also sometimes called, is a culturally important crop. The Hopi people use it agriculturally, but also an integral part of some religious ceremonies.

It should come as no surprise then the Hopis have developed their own varieties of Corn, with the most famous perhaps being Hopi Blue Corn. This variety is in fact a type of Flour Corn, and such is better for making meal or Masa Harina than it is for eating on the cob.

6. Peaches and Cream Corn

10 Types of Corn Plant
6. Peaches and Cream Corn

Don’t get too excited – Peaches and Cream Corn doesn’t really taste like peaches and cream! Nonetheless, it may be the sweetest cultivar of the Sweet Corn type. Peaches and Cream is an early developer, being ready for harvest before many other varieties. It is also what is called a bicolour Corn, having pretty white and yellow kernels.

If you wish to grow Peaches and Cream Corn, either start it indoors, or plant outside in late spring. To grow well, it will require regular watering along with warm to hot summer weather. For large ears and good yield pollination is necessary, so be sure to plant them in a group.

7. Pod Corn

Perhaps the most unusual Corn on the list, Pod Corn has a somewhat un-corn-like appearance. Rather than smooth, shiny or dented kernels, it has kernels that are enveloped in glumes. Glumes are what forms the outer husk in grains and grasses, including wheat, for example. For this reason, many researchers believe that Pod Corn may be the ancestor to domesticated Corn. This debate may be far from over, however, as Corn genetics are a hefty area of study.

These days, Pod Corn is still found throughout the Americas but is only grown for ornamental purposes. Like most other varieties on this list, it does require direct sun and a good summer to mature well.

8. Popcorn

Corn Plant Varieties
8. Popcorn

Popcorn, also known as Popping Corn, is available at almost every movie theatre in the world. But did you know that is in fact a specific type of Corn? This is because there are a couple of qualities a Corn must have to pop correctly. Like Flint Corn, Popcorn has a hard outer shell that traps moisture inside the kernel. It also has a starchy interior that tends to puff up when heated. The combination of these qualities is what makes Popcorn pop and shred itself into the unusual shapes it comes in.

Unsurprisingly, it was the Indigenous peoples of South America that doesn’t Popcorn and recognized what an unusual and enjoyable food it was. While we don’t know where or when exactly, it is generally accepted that Popcorn was already being grown at least five thousand years ago.

9. Oaxacan Green Dent Corn

Oaxacan Green Dent Corn is an astoundingly unique variety! Though it is indeed a Dent Corn, its appearance is nothing like the yellow Dent Corn cultivars we usually see grown in agricultural areas. The individual kernels are large, fat-looking, and dark green. Often, they also tend to arrange themselves in more irregular rows than other varieties. When the ears are dried, the dents in the kernels are also quite large, adding to the unique outer aspect.

As far as flavour goes, this cultivar is not for eating like a vegetable (technically of course, it is a fruit). Instead, Oaxacan Green Dent Corn is perfect for cornmeal for tortillas and other specialties. For ornamental purposes, these plants are very striking. They often grow to 6 feet (1.83m) tall and produce large ears.

10. Sweet Corn

Types of Corn Plant
10. Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn is perhaps the only Corn type that is always used for eating unrefined, rather than as an ingredient. This is of course due to its very sweet flavour and tender texture. Unlike Flour Corn and Flint Corn, Sweet Corn has high sugar content, that turns to starch later in the season. If harvested during the “milk” stage it maintains most of this sugar.

These days, numerous Sweet Corn varieties are available, from the Peaches and Cream cultivar that we discussed earlier to so-called “super sweet” varieties. When it comes to cultivation, sweet can be successfully grown in any garden, but will need at least some warm weather.

Infographic: Five Unique Types of Corn Plant

Five Unique Types of Corn are:

  1. Dent Corn
  2. Flint Corn
  3. Flour Corn
  4. Pod Corn
  5. Popcorn
10 Types of Corn Plants
Five unique types of corn Infographic

Download infographic as a PDF.

Other resources related to Types of Corn Plants:

What are the differences between the various types of sweet corn?

Types Of Corn And Why We Love Them All

Corn Varieties: Best Bets and Easy-to-Grow

Germination of Hopi Blue Maize

Clarisse Walters
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