Why Corn Has Hair

When buying fresh corn at the market, you can find thread-like fibers at the top of the ear. And if you open the leaves, you may find out that the corn grains are entangled with this yellowish hair. But what is this stuff?

5-Minute Crafts would like to tell you why corn can be “hairy.”

What this “corn hair” actually is

The shiny thread-like fibers that adorn the top of the corn ear are commonly called “corn silk.” But this silk has a clear purpose. Each fiber is actually an elongated style that is attached to an individual ovary inside the ear.

Why corn needs hair

Corn is a monoecious plant that has both male and female flowers. The former is represented by a tassel that is formed at the top of the plant and, after maturation, it begins to produce pollen.

The ear is the female part. Inside its leaves, up to 1,000 ovules (potential kernels) are hidden. The leaves covering the ovules protect them from damage but also interfere with the entry of pollen. To make fertilization possible, the “hair” appears on the corn.

Each hair is an elongated style protruding from the ear and is capable of catching pollen flying in the air. The tips of the styles (stigmas) are equipped with a large number of hairs that capture pollen particles and help them travel down the style.

One of the pollen grains participates in the fertilization of the ovule to form a kernel. And the “hair,” having fulfilled its function, gets separated from the ear in 2 to 3 days.

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