Glass gem corn was invented by Carl Barnes, a part-Cherokee farmer who lived in Oklahoma.

class gem corn
Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

To create the multicolored ears, he collected ancient corn seeds and cross-bred several ancestral corn varieties together, which resulted in a single ear containing a spectrum of hues.

Barnes, who died in 2016, dedicated his farming career to preserving the seeds of traditional Native American corn varieties. In order to create his masterpiece, Barnes simply replanted the seeds from the most colorful cobs, experimenting with different patterns and colors over the years. The colorful kernels are too hard to eat off the cob, but they can be popped into popcorn for a fun movie night treat. Sturdy plants reach to 9′ tall and throw numerous side shoots where the season is long enough. It produces best in grown a hot and dry environment. and can be harvested 110 to 120 days after planting. Seeds are available from Baker Creek.

Glass Gem Corn: An Artful Heirloom