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Home » Plant infomation

Zea mays  L.


Botanical Name


Zea mays L.

English Name


Maize, corn, sweet corn



Zea vulgaris Mill., Zea mays L. subsp. mays L., Zea macrosperma Klotzsch





General Info


A erect, fast growing, short-lived annual herb growing to 7 m, but more commonly to 2–3 m in height; usually with a single main culm and one or occasionally 2 lateral branches in the leaf axils in the upper part of the plant. Internodes cylindrical in the upper part, alternately grooved on the lower part with a bud in the groove. Leaves alternate with broad, sword-shaped leaf blades, parallel veins with a prominent mid-rib, and small ligules. Upper surface is hairy, lower surface hairless. The main culm produces at least 8 leaves, with temperate hybrids producing an average of 15 leaves and tropical hybrids producing up to 48 leaves. Conventional roots are supplemented with aerial brace roots, which protect against lodging. Flowers monoecious, born in separate parts of the plant. Female flowers (ears) arise from axillary bud apices. Male flowers (tassels) arise from the apical stem. Ears consist of a robust rachis (cob), with 4–30 rows of almost sessile spikelets bearing the caryopses (kernels). Kernels are highly variable, producing a range of commercial types including dent, flint, flour, waxy, pop and sweet corn.

Herb Effects

Cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, lithontripic, mildly stimulant and vasodilator (corn silks); diuretic and a mild stimulant (seeds); anticancerous (plant)


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Medicinal Use

A decoction of the leaves and roots is used in the treatment of strangury, dysuria and gravel. The corn silks act to reduce blood sugar levels and so are used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus as well as cystitis, gonorrhoea, gout etc. A decoction of the cob is used in the treatment of nose bleeds and menorrhagia. The seeds are a good emollient poultice for ulcers, swellings and rheumatic pains, and is widely used in the treatment of cancer, tumours and warts.



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