Indian corn

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Indian corn is a term that originated in America and is a reference to the Native Americans. We will examine the meaning of the term Indian corn, where it came from and some examples of its use today.

Indian corn is a maize that consists of hard, multi-colored kernels. The word corn is actually an Old English word that means small seed, and was meant to refer to the common crop of a local district such as wheat or oats. When the settlers encountered the maize cultivated by the Native Americans, it was only natural to refer to it as Indian corn, or the common crop of the Indians. Indian corn is also known as flint corn, referring to the hardness of the kernels. It is this trait and scarcity of moisture that makes Indian corn resistant to freezing and excellent for storage purposes. In recent times, Indian corn has been bred more for coloration than for nutrition, and is primarily used as autumn and Thanksgiving decorations. Note that the word Indian in Indian corn is capitalized.


If you need a start of Indian corn seed ask your neighbor for the ears they used to make a fall wreath for their front door this year. (The Jackson County Times-Journal)

What all this means is decorating with Indian corn is a very environmental way to protect heirloom crops, landraces and their precious Zea maize genetics. (The Kenosha News)

That same letter from Edward Winslow notes that, “Indian corn even the coarsest, maketh as pleasant meat as rice.” (The Petoskey News)

Beginning in September, I put up a wreath on my front door that was a mixture of miniature pumpkins and Indian corn. (The Spartanburg Herald-Journal)