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Growing Glass Gems

Glass Gem Corn is an intriguing varietal that produces rows of glimmering, opalescent kernels that seem to bloom like heirloom jewels.

Like many heirloom treasures, Glass Gem corn has a name, a place, and a story. Its origin traces back to Carl Barnes, a part-Cherokee farmer living in Oklahoma. Barnes had an uncanny knack for corn breeding. More specifically, he excelled at selecting and saving seed from those cobs that exhibited vivid, translucent colors. Exactly how long Barnes worked on Glass Gem—how many successive seasons he carefully chose, saved, and replanted these special seeds—is unknown. But after many years, his painstaking efforts created a wondrous corn cultivar that has now captivated thousands of people around the world.

- Native Seeds

Native Seeds, a nonprofit seed conservation organization based in Tucson, Arizona procured some of the seeds and grew them on. They say, “we are lucky enough to have grown and admired this extraordinary corn ourselves. Rest assured, this is no Photoshop sham. It is truly as stunning held in your your hand as it is on your computer screen. When you peel back the husk from a freshly harvested ear to reveal the rainbow of colors inside, it’s like unwrapping a magical present. And this is a gift that is meant to be shared far and wide.”

For more information of this heirloom variety and options on how to purchase this seed, visit the Native Seeds blog or Seed Trust.com

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17 thoughts on “Growing Glass Gems”

  1. This may be a few stupid questions but I really don’t know the answers. Is this grown for appearance? Can you eat it? Does it taste like normal corn?

    1. According to Native Seeds: Glass Gem is a flint corn used for making flour or as a popping corn. Unlike sweet corn, it is not edible right off the cob. However, it was likely bred as an ornamental variety—for obvious reasons. Many of these exquisite ears are simply too beautiful to eat.

    1. Glass Gem is a flint corn used for making flour or as a popping corn. Unlike sweet corn, it is not edible right off the cob. However, it was likely bred as an ornamental variety—for obvious reasons. Many of these exquisite ears are simply too beautiful to eat.

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