Corn silks are annoying, but they’re also amazing. The longest styles on the planet don’t make it easy for corn pollen to do its job. Gain new respect for your corn on the cob.
Fresh corn (Zea mays, Poeaceae) is a summertime treat. Shucking corn silks, though, can be a pain. Corn silks, however, are amazing, and maybe knowing why will ameliorate their annoyingness. Formally corn silks are the style, the part of the female flower that intercepts pollen. Female flowers of many species have a stigma, a sticky pad, atop their styles to intercept pollen, but corn silks are lined with sticky trichomes (like hairs) that essentially do the same thing. Corn silks are incredibly long styles. Can you think of another plant with a flower appendage that could rival it? I can’t. Continue reading