A Feast for the Eyes – The Beautiful Glass Gem Corn

Few cereals can be described as stunningly beautiful, but the multi-colored Glass Gem Corn is definitely one of these rare exceptions. Also known as Rainbow Corn, these unique strain of corn features kernels of many different colors that sparkle like tiny pieces of blown glass.

The story of Glass Gem corn began with Carl Barnes, a part-Cherokee farmer from Oklahoma who noticed that every once in a while some of his corn cobs had strangely-colored kernels, and dedicated his life to creating the agricultural wonder you see below. Nobody knows exactly how many years Barnes spent worked on the unique cereal, how many successive seasons he carefully chose, saved, and replanted these special seeds, but one thing is for sure – his painstaking efforts had a truly mind-blowing result, a new breed of corn that most people consider a work of art rather than a cereal.


Photo: Greg Schoen

Before he died, Barnes, passed on his precious collection of Glass Gem Corn to Greg Schoen, a fellow corn breeder, entrusting him with a very important mission – to make sure his amazing discovery was not lost. Carl’s protégé stayed true to his promise to safeguard the stunning corn breed and eventually passed on several unique corn varieties to fellow seedsman Bill McDorman, who owned Seed Trust, a small seed company in Arizona. He had never seen the actual corn cob, but curious about the odd name of the breed, he planted a few seeds just to see what it looked like. “I was blown away,” the farmer remembers. “No one had ever seen corn like this before.” Mr McDorman is now head of Native Seeds/SEARCH, a non-profit organisation which tries to preserve the agricultural heritage of Native Americans, including Glass Gem Corn.


Photo: Greg Schoen

Native Seeds/SEARCH sells Glass Gem Corn seeds through their website, but ever since word about its uniqueness spread through the internet, the variety is constantly sold out. When the first photos of this stunningly beautiful corn variety went viral, the demand was so great that the organization’s website went down from the sudden increase in traffic. You can Glass Gem Corn seeds for $7.95 per packet and use it to make popcorn or flour, but it also makes an impressive gift or souvenir.


Photo: Guzelian


Photo: Web/Unknown


Photo: North American Indian Center of Boston

Sources: Native Seeds, Weather.com

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