Glass Gem Corn. The corn so beautiful it broke the Internet.

Glass Gem corn, the iridescent flint corn that looks like little jewels on a cob is both ornamental and edible. You wouldn’t want to eat it straight off the cob but it grinds into perfect cornmeal and used for popcorn.



I was at my neighbour’s house the other day dropping off some chives from my garden for her when I said something that felt a little ridiculous.  Not Westboro Baptist ridiculous, just normal ridiculous.  You may know the fun loving Westboro Baptists from their hit single, “God Hates the World” or one of their catchy mottos, “The Only True Jews are Christians” and “1, 2, 3, 4, God Hates the Marine Corps”.  They also hate “fags”, flags, Catholics, the Pope, Barrack Obama, Sweden, Apple (even though they use iPhones), Leonard Nimoy, pink buses, life, death, air, rainbows and anti-psychotic medications apparently.

What I said to my neighbour was “this is a very busy time of year for me with the harvest and all”.  The harvest and all.  Firstly, when did I learn to speak yokel? And secondly … the harvest?  I have a 20×40 foot community garden and a patch of front yard and I’m referring to “the harvest”.

But I’m telling you now, with Sweden as my witness, every spare second I have at the moment is taken up by picking vegetables, storing vegetables, canning or otherwise preserving vegetables.  The harvest.





One of the things I happen to be harvesting is Glass Gem corn. Reader Kat mailed the seeds to me last year. I didn’t really know what they were at the time which isn’t surprising since Glass Gem corn was only unveiled to the world in 2012.





Glass Gem corn is a variety that almost didn’t exist.  You see, years ago a part-Cherokee farmer in Oklahoma was known for being a bit of a corn breeding genius.  His name was Carl Barnes. Carl mixed and matched and bred different varieties of corn.   He planted and created corn that produced translucent, gem-like kernels.  He did this for years until he was satisfied he had created a variety of corn that would reliably reproduce what he had in his head.  A corn that looked like it was made up of translucent glass gems. Glass Gem corn.





When Carl started to get on (there’s that yokel talk about), he passed his seed collection onto his seed saving protege Greg Schoen.  Greg was the one person that Carl trusted with his decades of work.  In 2010, while in the process of moving and not wanting to lose track of the thousands of seeds, Greg took a small portion of his collection to a seed saving institution, Seeds Trust.

Curious about these seeds, in 2012 someone from Seeds Trust planted a handful of them in their garden to see what this Glass Gem corn would look like.




They were stunned to find corn with see through kernels in gemstone colours.  And every single cob was different.  The company posted photos of the corn on their Facebook page and within hours the corn pictures went viral, crashing their Facebook page.  EVERYONE wanted to buy the seeds.  The problem was, there weren’t any for sale.

Over the next couple of years Seeds Trust worked to produce enough seeds to be able to sell to the public.




I have no idea how my reader got these seeds, but I’m hoping she’ll let us all know in the comment section.  I take my seed responsibility very seriously so I’ll be getting a separate garden next year just for my glass gem corn.  I’m hoping to grow 100 plants.

If YOU want to buy Glass Gem corn, there are many places that sell it on but if I were you I’d buy it from the original source Seed Trust.  By buying from them you’ll be guaranteed you’re getting a properly bred and selected seed.

I know you’re all excited about the possibility of eating this now, but Glass Gem isn’t an eat off of the cob type of corn.  It’s a grind into flour type of corn; a flint corn.  Before you get too disappointed, there are 2 other things you can do with this corn.  Use it for fall decorating because it’s SO much more impressive than the regular Indian corn you can buy.  OR … and this is the fun part … you can use it for popcorn.

Coming up on Wednesday I’ll be showing you 4 ways to decorate with Indian Corn using my Glass Gem corn because no matter what Pinterest tells you, tying 3 cobs of Indian corn together isn’t as easy as it looks.  For real.  Once Autumn decorating season is over I’ll be removing the best kernels for seed saving and the rest will get put into a glass jar for popcorn.

Because who doesn’t like popcorn?!  Then again.  Who doesn’t like rainbows?


  1. Patty says:

    Awww. I’m very jealous of your corn. I planted some this year and it never made it. We had a very rainy June so it was planted later then I would have liked. Only a few stalks ended up growing and they only made it waist high. You could see the pretty colors the cobs had started developing. Oh well, there is always next year.

  2. Barb says:

    This corn is beyond beautiful, if that can be said about a vegetable. Thanks so much for sharing, Karen!

  3. Tigersmom says:

    Ok, I scrolled back up to admire the photos again and I have to compliment you for color coordinating your green pants to the green in the corn kernels. I know that was no accident.
    And who is the maker of your awesome gold (but not over the top GOLD!!!) flats?

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Tigersmom. Hmm. I actually can’t remember. I have a couple pairs of gold flats. I think those ones are from Joe Fresh. ~ karen!

  4. Tigersmom says:

    So pretty!!!!

  5. Erin says:

    “Harvest and all” is right. I’m up to my eyeballs in tomatoes and peppers (which is a good thing) but we’re getting work done on the house, and when the guys come I’m sure they think I’m slacking off. But the tomatoes on the counter are different ones every couple of days. I’m roasting as fast as I can. Let’s not even mention the kale!
    Beautiful corn variety- thanks for sharing the story.

  6. I’d love to grow corn again, but every time I plant it, I suddenly find hitherto unseen raccoons in my garden and stripped corn and half-eaten cobs all over. How do you prevent this happening to you?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Madeleine. I was sure that was going to happen to me too this year but it seems our community garden fencing is finally keeping most of the raccoons out. I also put 8′ stakes all around my corn patch and enclosed it by stapling a loose netting on. Loose enough that the raccoons couldn’t climb on it. A lot of other people make makeshift electric fences (either battery operated or solar powered) around their corn to keep the raccoons out and it seems to work really well. You can get the stuff you need from any TSC store. ~ karen!

    • Jossephine says:

      Madeleine I feel for you. I had the same problem, by the time my crop of corn was ready there was none left. I haven’t planted corn in a few years and I was missing our own corn so I planted orchard corn this year to try it out and we placed a metal trap with marshmallows in it and we caught 6 raccoons which we released way…..way down another road. Word of advise raccoon’s love sweet things, skunks don’t, just so you don’t get a nasty surprise one morning.
      There is nothing like growing your own corn. My favorite for eating is White Corn.
      However the glass corn sounds sooo cool. For us Canadians some of us use companies over the border that we send our parcels to and save on shipping. Though they do charge $5.00 a parcel. Now with the exchange rate so high? Something to figure out.

  7. Karin says:

    very beautiful corn, perhaps next year i shall give it a try. but… what about Greg? someone just took the seeds and is now selling them? i just hope Greg is part of the payout in some way. otherwise t’wouldn’t be right.

  8. Sarah says:

    Wow! I have to get my hands on some of those seeds!

  9. Melissa in NC says:


  10. Mary W says:

    WOW, I will certainly grow that corn in my 3 x 10 flower border and forget the flowers. Amazing to look at and I eat air popped popcorn almost every day. How many people can eat their displays instead of storing them for next year – Karen you are a genius. I will be getting some ASAP.

    • Mary W says:

      Seeds ordered through Seed Trust. My next question is – never had to help corn pollinate but will need to as I only have a tiny plot. Any suggestions?

      • Karen says:

        I just shook the stalks a tiny bit when they flowers were on top and the silks on the cobs were showing, that’s all. ~ karen!

  11. Cindy says:

    Beautiful! Perhaps you intend to explain how to dry the corn in Wednesday’s post but I wondered if you peel back the husk before or after it dries.

    I really want to grow this corn but I don’t have enough sun on our property. Perhaps I can beg my BIL to use some space on his farm. It is gorgeous but popcorn, too- I love it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy. Technically you’re supposed to wait until the corn has dried on the stalks before you pick it but there was no way I could wait for that. Besides, bugs and stuff were starting to eat it so I picked it when you would normally pick corn, peeled the husks up and let it dry. I actually have NO idea if this is the right way to do it but it’s worked so far for me. ~ karen!

  12. Christine says:

    What fun! Think I’ll order a packet. Anyway, corn needs to be planted so rows are tight and close together for good pollination. Also plant flowers nearby to encourage bees and hummingbirds. Maybe hang a hummingbird feeder nearby.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christine. I should have mentioned that I planted my corn in a 4′ x 4′ square bed with 4 plants per square foot. So 64 stalks of corn! The ones on the inside didn’t do great and were a bit shaded but all the corn on the outside was perfect. I’ll just plant a little earlier next year. ~ karen!

      • Christine Mortimer says:

        Me too Karen but what I did but not so much on purpose was do a staggered planting so I’d have corn longer. Maybe that helped as it didn’t come up all at one time.Plus watered the dickens out of it. I already ordered a packet of the corn and am excited to try it next Spring.
        I love your blog and look forward to your weekly installments.

  13. Lisa says:

    Westboro probably hates Gem Corn too! lol

  14. Liz M says:

    Thanks for giving the details on this corn. It is absolutely stunning!

  15. marilyn says:

    it is simply beautiful!

  16. Chris says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything just from reading someone’s blog, but I just went over to the seed trust site and bought two packets.

  17. Beckie says:

    I bought some when you posted this back in the spring. I picked one ear (so far) because I was impatient and NEEDED to see it. So pretty.

    My ears are a bit smallish, but filled out quite nicely.

    I grow corn mainly to have the stalks for fall decorating, so if I get corn of any sort, it’s a bonus for me.

  18. Jillian says:

    You made my morning with your opening few paragraphs, I am cracking up! lol
    I am in the same boat, between work and sleep, I am only harvesting, canning, drying, storing, etc. I feel very blessed with the abundance yet keep finding myself saying “what was I thinking planting so much!” I am so sick of green beans…..

    AND the harvest, and all comment. If I didn’t know you went to Tennessee, I would have said “have you visited Tennessee lately?” lol This is what they say in the South, along with “Y’all” My oldest daughter lives in Kentucky and fills me in when I”m not speaking proper Southern lol even though I live in the North

    Thanks for the laughs and of course, your info on glassgem corn. I will have to grow it next year.

  19. Karol says:

    Isn’t Mother Nature a marvelous thing… and the scientists who manipulate it! Beautiful corn!

  20. mayr says:

    Couldja tell us how to undo the corn from the cob fer poppin?

    • Karen says:

      I will when I get to that post a little later in the season mayr. There are two ways to generally do it though. Just by rubbing the dried kernels off with your finger or rubbing two cobs together over a bowl. ~ karen!

  21. Sarah says:

    In 2013, we grew what we thought was traditional corn, from seeds purchased from Walmart. It was a fun thing to add to our “kids garden”. What we ended up with was very similar to your photos! Each cob was different. Some were blood red (very creepy) and others had pale jewel-like kernels. Of course we didn’t didn’t try eating any of it, but we had lovely fall displays all over the porch and dining table.

  22. BJ says:

    How cool! I might look into growing some myself or get some for my niece’s son to grow! Oh and I live in Oklahoma – apparently the Westboro Psycho Church (my term since they aren’t the kind of Baptist I know) doesn’t like weather forecasters either. They’re coming to Norman this week to picket NOAA Weather Station! I firmly believe there is a special place waiting for this type of hate filled, judgemental person, and it ain’t a’gonna be (yokel talk) the golden streets they’re thinking of!! I enjoy reading your blog, you’re very real. Oh, does the popped corn take on the same colors or just the kennel part?

    • Karen says:

      Sadly it looks just the same as normal popcorn BJ. It does however taste better. Smaller kernels that are fluffy and crisp. Not tough and chewy. Yes I’m sure the regular old Baptists of the world are thrilled that the Westboro’s have for some reason put “Baptist” into their name, lol. ~ karen!

  23. Debbie Bashford says:

    The seeds are $6.50 US for a package of 80, to ship this package the only option to Canada appears to be UPS Standard at a cost of $34.84

    • Karen says:

      Hi … I find many times if you just email the company and say HEY there, what’s with the huge shipping cost? they’ll find a cheaper way to ship. So much of shipping costs is automated that it’s sometimes difficult for a seller to adjust shipping types or costs to other countries in their “shop program”. ~ karen!

  24. Hudson Valley says:

    yes, you can have your corn and wear it too.
    eons ago, I made some necklaces with regular hard corn.

    Simply soak in water to soften.

    not long enough for it to sproat. sprout.
    Then string using heavy needle, and, if you smart, use a thimble. Even soaked, it wasn’t easy to get the needle thru. gol dang, these w make a rootin tootin necklace.

    maybe even an ankle bracelet.

    send pix if you do this,

  25. Lady Dream says:

    Oooo shinies!

    Can’t grow any where I’m at now, but will want some in the future! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  26. SeaDee says:

    I. Want!

    • SeaDee says:

      And I ordered! And there a local Colorado company, so I’m going to pick up tomorrow. Julia from Seeds Trust is great so call her with any questions, especially about shipping.

      The best part is that the seeds are on sale right now! Support them!

  27. Alexandra says:

    For those people who are “blacklisted” from the Seeds Trust (site): You could try finding a specialist seeds seller in your country. When I read about the Glass Gem Corn the last time Karen wrote about it, I found it here in a German online seed shop; which would be easier anyway with ordering/customs/whatnot. (I didn’t buy it because I don’t have space for corn on my balcony.)
    Personally I’d assume it might be better to buy seeds from a shop in your own country, because those will have been treated according to the law of the land, so for example in Australia you wouldn’t be planting illegal corn. :)

  28. janeasinner says:

    I thought they were Beads. I’ve got Beads on my mind. Lovely photos. Thanks for sharing! and for the Seeds Trust link

  29. Indy says:

    I have lovely corns too, but they don’t look like gemstones :p

  30. Alex Grady says:

    That’s such lovely corns! Didn”t knew it existed till now!

  31. hewett joan says:

    Dang! As a bead freak, I thought this was going to be some crazy DIY gemstone beading project that I would spent scads of money on! Now I’m going to spend scads of money trying to figure out how to turn this into a REAL gemstone corn!!! Will keep you posted!

  32. Kathleen says:

    Well now… I tried to find out… and the website “declined to show” me their site! I guess we are more than blacklisted!!!!

  33. Kat says:

    First off I am not the same Kat as the post mentions. I did however learn quite a bit about corn. Very interesting stuff and I never knew about the pollinating thing with all those silky strands. Beautiful photos Karen and great post!

  34. Kathleen says:

    When I saw the first picture, I wondered what crafter had gone to all that effort to polish gem stones, model and mould something that looks exactly like a corn cob, attach the gems to it, and oh, and how did they make the dried leaves look so realistic? And then I read the post… the corn is so beautiful! So, so beautiful!

    And I am positive that South Africa doesn’t have such strict laws… and I am praying we aren’t blacklisted… off to find out…

    Thank you for this post! I am in love! (with corn!)

  35. Sharon says:

    That corn is gorgeous! Wish I could buy some in a store because I don’t have enough sun in my backyard to grow veggies and especially not corn. It looks great with the cobs tied together and it’s going to look so pretty in jars afterwards. During the winter when you look at that jar, I bet you think about your summer garden!

  36. Marna says:

    Beautiful! I don’t normally grow corn, just every few years, might be worth trying, it is so unusual. Thanks for sharing. :)

  37. Hazel says:

    GB is also blacklisted :(
    We must have funny quarantine laws too (though we don’t have fruit sniffer dogs at airports like California)

  38. Pam...not the same Pam that posted earlier says:

    Darn pretty corn! I want to see what it looks like popped! Will the kernels retain any of their color?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pam! No, they won’t sadly. Sad, sad, sad. This blog is always filled with such sad news. It does however, produce delicious popcorn. I tried a few kernels that were very dry the other day and it pops up to be small popcorn but very crispy. Not at all chewy. Pretty much perfect popcorn actually! But it’s definitely plain white and you can’t even see the colour of the kernel at all once cooked. Luckily I don’t eat a lot of popcorn so mainly it’ll look great in a clear jar on a shelf. ;) ~ karen

      • Adrienne says:

        Maybe you’d heard this but I read in a seed trust article, that the best kernels to pop are perfectly round without flat sides which won’t pop as well :)

  39. Paula says:

    I tried to grow this corn this year, but it didn’t really work. There are some cobs but they are super skinny and I have yet to pick one.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Paula. It sounds like it either a) didn’t get enough sun or b) was planted a bit too late for the ears to mature. It’s also possible they didn’t pollinate. Sometimes you need to help corn along to pollinate. The top of the corn grows a sort of flower on it with pollen. When it’s moved by the wind the pollen falls down and hits the new silk of the corn. Each one of those strands of silk on the top of your corn produces a kernel of corn! So if some or all of the strands aren’t pollinated you get corn that doesn’t grow any kernels. ~ karen!

      • Paula says:

        Thanks for the pointers. It was in sun all day with plenty of compost plus mulch and it was watered. I think that planted too late and lack of pollination are the most likely culprits.
        It is so pretty that I will try again next year.

  40. Patricia Polmanteer says:

    That glass corn (pop corn)is beautiful indeed. I fell in love with it when I got the information from the seed trust in 2014 to plant that year but with my husbands health issues I had to wait. I planted it late this year and is came up nicely. I can’t wait to harvest it and put it on display while it drys. I will be saving some to plant next (and all the following that I can) year. I am well please to see you post those beautiful pictures and write such a nice piece on it. Thanks for sharing.

  41. Ritz says:

    That corn is some beautiful!
    Thank you, Karen.

  42. Cynthia Jones says:

    It’s the purtiest corn I ever did seen. Ahuh!

  43. Cynthia Jones says:


    I had the brilliant idea of buying some for myself and my friend for part of her Christmas gift.

    The Seed Trust message says my country AU has been blacklisted.

    I dint do anything. Maybe they are worried about Australia’s weird quarantine rules. They’re happy to let us all go to Bali and have rabies/mange infested monkeys sit on our heads without spraying us on the way home, but “oh no, the dreaded corn kernel may have something icky in it that will kill our crops or spread disease”.

    Anyone want to send me some? I promise I will come and visit you in jail if you’re caught.

    • Natasha says:

      Lol that sucks…well I planted a whole small plot of these organic heirloom glass gem corn. I’d be happy to send you some when it comes time to harvest. You just pay the shipping.

  44. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Dammit . . . thought I was gonna be the first reply o’ the day since I was just sitting around reading on my iPad and my email went “bing” and I said yay in my head, I will be first. But no. And I’ve got nothin’ worthwhile to say either.
    Well, it is pretty corn. Dammit.

  45. Therese says:

    Now that is some good looking corn!

  46. Jan says:

    It doesn’t look real! LOL I’m sure it is, but WOW. I was so slack I didn’t even put in a summer garden this year (the winter one is going great), but with some seeds like this, I would dedicate the whole plot to just corn. I bet if you picked it before maturity as large baby corns you could eat it. Wonder if it has the beautiful colors before maturity. Next spring would you please check and see? Stunning pics!

  47. Amanda says:

    Love this!!!

  48. Daphne says:

    We had trouble keeping up with “the harvest” this year, like you said, it take all our spare time! We had I think the best garden year I can recall this year. Still trying to bring in all the apples. Gorgeous corn, will keep my eye out when seed ordering. Thanks for a lovely post!

  49. Jamieson says:

    That is a stunner! I imagine it’s even more beautiful in person than in a photo.

  50. peg says:

    so pretty~will you be sending seeds to all your followers,please. or just one whole ear . :D

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