Glass Gem Corn

When people think of corn, they usually don’t think of a thing of incredible beauty. That will certainly change the first time you see glass gem corn which really does look like a cob full of precious gems rather than something that grows on a cob.

Glass gem corn was a long-lost variety that may never have been discovered except for some fortuitous happenings. A seedsman named Greg Schoen was able to obtain some of the glass gem corn seeds from his part Cherokee “corn teacher” Carl Barnes. Carl is in his mid 80’s from Oklahoma and may have been the only person who still had seeds from this corn variety. It wasn’t Greg, however, that introduced this variety of corn to the world.

Instead, in 2010 Greg decided to move. While moving, he made the determination that he needed to find someone to store and protect his seed collection so that it didn’t get lost or ruined in the moving process. Greg decided to store several different samples of corn seed with Seeds Trust, a 25-year-old family owned seed company, including the glass gem corn seeds.

glass gem corn photo

In 2011, Bill McDormann, president of Seeds Trust decided to grow the corn varieties that Greg had left with them. When he saw the result of the glass gem seed corn, he was absolutely amazed and posted photos of the corn on the Internet. Bill hadn’t known how beautiful the corn would be and thus did not grow out enough of the glass gem corn to sell.

Photos of the beautiful ears eventually spread across the Internet and in May 2012 went viral with a post on the social networking site Reddit which was then picked-up by dozens of other social media outlets. There was instant clamoring of where seeds for glass gem corn could be purchased.

Currently, there is no place to purchase glass gem corn seeds as the few people who do have the seeds haven’t grown enough to obtain a stock of seeds to sell. This will surely change in the near future as those who do have the seeds will be growing more. Hopefully glass gem corn seeds will be plentiful enough for anyone who wants them to purchase them within the next few years.

We will definitely keep you up to date as to when and where these seeds are available for purchase. Until you are able to grow this corn on your own, here are some more beautiful glass gem corn photos for you to feast your eyes on!

glass gem corn

glass gem maize

Gem maize

70 Responses to Glass Gem Corn

  1. Gail Rodgers says:

    Amazing! Is this edible corn or only for decorative use? Can you imagine how happily kids would eat their vegetables if they looked like crayon colors?

  2. Peter Whitty says:

    Nice pun Gail..

    I would be keen to grow this beautiful corn, have to see if I am allowed to grow it in Australia!

    • morgan says:

      I don’t think you can grow it there. My dad and stepmom live there and she was saying she wished she could buy the seeds but the hassle of getting it approved wouldn’t be worth it.

      • Karwil says:

        The seed is available in Australia. I got it from an Organic farm in Western Australia. Just search for merry bees farm and glass gem corn

    • Annie says:

      Hi Peter I’ve purchased seeds from the US and have had no problems getting them into Australia. If customs don’t let them in so be it, but seeds don’t seem to be a problem, it’s plants they won’t let through.

  3. Miranda says:

    Wow, this is amazing. Is is GMO though?

    • Bob Ross says:

      Considering the source, it wouldn’t be GMO. It probably has been selectively bred, and therefore not “natural,” just like every commercial crop out there.

      • firefish58 says:

        You’d be amazed at what varieties, colors, kernel sizes, etc. have been grown naturally by Native Americans for centuries before the whites showed up. I have some cool colors that I’ve picked up here and there but nothing translucent like this.

        • August Pamplona says:

          «You’d be amazed at what varieties, colors, kernel sizes, etc. have been grown naturally by Native Americans for centuries before the whites showed up.»

          Wait, what? Am I reading too much into your comment or are you seriously attempting to imply that what Native Americans do with corn doesn’t count as artificial selection because they grow corn naturally*?

          * Unlike whites who grow corn unnaturally, apparently.

      • wanda says:

        There is no such thing as “natural corn” then, because corn does not grow wild, it needs people to plant it or it dies out due to the fact that it can not scatter its seeds. No where in the world does corn occur in nature, therefore ALL corn is selectively bread. The same goes for the bananas that you find in the store (they do not grow in the wild) and navel oranges (also a “human invention” that is a cross breed of a wild tangerine and grapefruit)

        • Dave says:

          wanda? your nuts,, get a good shrink and take some good pills, bananas dont grow in the wild? your one non know it all, wher eyou think monkeys get thier food int eh jungles? south america is loaded with bananas, and im sure the monkeys didnt plant them, go to bed wanda and take some pills

        • andrea says:

          I hear you, but I have blue corn growing right now in the back of my garden that I did not plant. It is tall and strong and healthy and prolific. only thing I can figure is it grew from the compost?

        • Rose says:

          The interesting question here is whether it is genetically tampered with, not whether it is “artificial” in that there’s been human influence.

          Corn occurs in nature, of course! The wild sorts have much tinier seeds and are not good for eating, but they exist- otherwise, from what would have the cultivated corn been bred?

          What Native Americans did with the corn was selective breeding, which is the same as evolution, basically. It’s like flowers evolved to look nice to bees – corn evolved to be tasty to humans. That’s natural.

  4. Gordon says:

    I would love to get some Glass Gem seed- if it is possible. thanks !

  5. Sipi says:

    I really really want some. It is just divine. My 4yo daughter called it ‘Jelly Bean’ corn. How wonderful is that.
    When it becomes available to buy some seeds I would love to grow some in Adelaide, Australia.

  6. Evelyn says:

    Is this edible or just ornamental? Is it non-GMO ?

  7. Panagiotis Athens says:

    Yea, nice “story” to sell the product… Probably Monsanto-made more GM than E.T. him self…

    • Scpeer says:

      P.A. Spread your cynicism elsewhere (unless you have facts). This is a beautiful story, without you crapping on it.

      • Janice says:

        Scpeer, I fully agree with you! My mother taught me to say something nice or don’t say anything at all!

        • Genius says:

          Why would anyone think E.T. was genetically modified? He’s an alien and while I haven’t seen that movie in a while, I don’t recall any suggestion being made that he was engineered. As the only alien in the film, it would be impossible for humans to tell if he was genetically modified as they have no other reference samples from his species.
          Not that I’m surprised that one of the “GMO bad” lot hasn’t thought things through very well.

          I notice no-one has actually answered the question as to whether its edible or not though. Anyone know?

      • andrea says:

        it’s heirloom. I grow it.

    • Jan says:

      As careful as I am I had not thought of that? I could not believe my eyes when I removed the husk and this beautiful corn with purples, pinks, greens was there?? I have not been able to find out, however, if it GMO before I plant more next year. It is possible.

  8. whan says:

    I want to corn varieties grown in Thailand, glass gems.
    To grow corn as one of Thailand.

  9. Dave says:

    This is a non-GMO flint type of corn. It can be used for cornmeal not eaten like a sweetcorn.

  10. mariamschild says:

    The corn is so absolutely beautiful. It is amongst the prettiest things I’ve every seen. Thanks for making my day with the sharing of it.

  11. Shar says:

    NOT GMO. Not a Monsanto product. This is real. Check stuff out before you say it’s not real, please.

  12. hyip says:

    Amazing….i want the seeds for this. And I don’t even like corn….Does the color come in randomly like that?

  13. K says:

    Corn is not a vegetable. It’s a grain.
    And it’s sweet so it’s the one thing kids usually do eat.
    Not exactly a healthy option since it spikes blood sugar.

  14. K says:

    It’s still pretty though. There are thousands of crop varieties that have been wiped out thanks to monsanto.

  15. Bob White says:

    I have always called it Indian Corn.

  16. Stacie says:

    Just to be clear, corn is NOT a grain or vegetable, it’s a FRUIT called caryopsis. Fruit is any edible part of a plant with a sweet flavor, it’s the ovary of a flowering plant. My children’s physician and my physician both confirmed this when we were talking about grain free diets. Due to severe allergies both me and my youngest son have to be grain free but thankfully corn is on the list of approved foods!
    Not that wikipedia is the best source, but they also confirm that corn kernels are fruit!

    • shannon fitterer says:

      I would really like gluten free people to know this…..I would be happy to tell them

    • Rose says:

      Um, I am pretty sure it is a grain. Actually, “corn” is a word also used for grains in other areas of the world.

      It IS gluten free, yes (which I guess is the relevant thing for your grain-free diet) but that doesn’t change the fact that it looks a lot like grass … which is what grains are. (But of course, I also consider tomato a vegetable, despite botanists’ insistence that it is a fruit)

      What are grains made of if not the ovary of a flowering plant?

  17. Austin says:

    This must have a huge variety of antioxidants!

  18. Pam says:

    Where can I get some seeds? This is beautiful!

  19. shannon fitterer says:

    I could hardly believe my eyes inspiring and beautiful part of our culture we should definitely preserve….

  20. shannon fitterer says:

    I could hardly believe my eye this is inspiring part of our culture and should most definitely preserved…..

  21. Lisa says:

    I would love to get my hands on some of the seeds as well. Interesting that it’s edible. If it were sweet like some of the sweet corns we have available now, I can only imagine the gorgeous and delicious dishes one could make from this. Macque choux, succotash, in jewel colors to delight the eye (and hopefully, the palate)

  22. Billy Chandler says:

    How can I order some of this Glass Gem Corn??

  23. Nikki says:

    Native Seeds took reservations last year. They sent an email out to the ones that signed up on the reservation list. They are allowing one packet of 50 seeds per customer.

  24. Ingrid Vaughan says:

    Can anyone please tell me where I sign up for the packet of seeds?…Also, as an american Indian it would be great if these seeds when available could be distributed out to those Nations who would like to reintroduce it back into our gardens..Many Nations have substantial farming on the reservations and this would be an excellent way to keep the seeds strong and provide corn meal which is used not only in ceremonies, but to also make our flat breads and such for everyday consumption…Thank you!

  25. Ted Hart says:

    I would like some seeds to purchase. Where would I get it?

  26. Monica says:

    Flint corn, if eaten early enough, is good. Not as sweet as the new hybrids, but if I wanted to eat sugar, I’d chew on sugarcane.

  27. mike newman says:

    i would happily spend money on this sharp looking corn.My wife of 40 years loves it.I would like to make her happy on her birthday.Does anyone have a little extra I could buy . I”d be her hero.thanks mike.

  28. Sunny Gardener says:

    It is super cool how selective breeding and generously crossing the genetics helped to make it a good size. They do say it’s good to eat fresh when young. And yes, it seems to one of the infinite varieties of ‘Indian Corn.’

  29. Jennifer Leaf says:

    This is NOT a GMO variety, just the opposite in fact, it’s an heirloom variety. Seeds aren’t available yet, apparently, but Native Seeds has many other varieties that are also quite interesting, unique and preserve the heritage of Native American seeds.

  30. Michelle says:

    They are inexpensive, but limited to one packet per person. & they are edible, don’t taste any different from regular corn. :)

  31. LAFUENTE says:


    I would like to buy GEM Glass Corn

    To distribute it after get crops on the world sharing the message together for à better world.

    Please consider this mais as professional


  32. Pale Bear says:

    It’s just Indian corn. Not sure what this article is intended for. We never ate the stuff, just used as decoration. Only reason it might be going extinct is it tastes bad.

    You white people will believe anything on the Internet, then call it a government conspiracy. How you managed to steal our land is beyond Pale Bear.

    • wanda says:

      Only white people decorate with Indian corn. Indians eat it. You either grind it into cornmeal or flour, or you make hominy out of it using lye water – and by the way, there are 100’s of distinct varieties of what you call “Indian corn” and ALL are used as food. So I really doubt “Pale Bear” that you are anything but white or you would have known this.

  33. Emily says:

    Can anyone please tell me few things ? 1) what will happen if I boil them and try to eat ? – change of color , not good for health, can not chew because they will still be hard, taste awful , etc 2) – how many actual whole corns ( like in the picture) you can get from one seed? – i saw on Youtube that it is from 3- 4.
    Thanks a lot

    • wanda says:

      I grew it this year and I’m getting about 2 to 3 ears on each plant (seed) You don’t want to just boil it to try it eat it (that will take FAR too long) unless you are using lye water to make hominy. (that’s a complicated process and somewhat dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing, but look it up if you are interested – I do it every year in a 15 gallon pot outside) You can grind it for cornmeal (food processor if you don’t have a grain mill) or grind even more for corn flour. But the easiest way for you to eat this is to pop it.

  34. Toes says:

    Stacy, re: caryopsis… Wheat and rice and others are also categorized as caryopsis (read at I think this explains why people debate over how to categorize corn: “Corn (Zea mays) is sometimes called a vegetable grain. Corn is a monocotyledon with only one seed leaf like grasses. The easily identified “grains” (or cereal plants/grasses) such as wheat, oats, and barley are also monocots. A grain is defined as the harvested dry seeds or fruit of a cereal grass, or the term can refer to the cereal grasses collectively. Field corn that is harvested when the seeds are dry would thus be considered a grain… to be very precise, all cereal grains could be called vegetables… Sweet corn when harvested before maturity is usually considered a vegetable…”

  35. lisa hess says:

    I would like to be put on the list. Can you send me some info on how to obtain it and order this beautiful corn.Can you imagine how beautiful it would look popped?

  36. Chris says:

    Is it theft that this guy just grew someone else’s corn and is looking to commericalize it?

    • jc says:

      it’s not theft, he gave them the seeds to look after, that’s part of how you look after them, by growing some of them every now and again.

      it’s a seed bank, that’s how they work, they grow stuff and harvest fresher seed from it every now and again to keep the stocks viable otherwise the seed ends up very old and looses fertility.

      you can even do voluntary work for some heritage seed stores of growing and harvesting varieties of things for them. (though you need enclosed spaces like greenhouses etc to ensure you don’t get htem cross pollinated with other varieties and mess up the line)

    • wanda says:

      yes, that’s what I thought too. I’ll never have any seed bank “hold” my seeds if they just swipe them.

      • Ellen Cameron says:

        Wanda, nobody “swiped” the seeds! Did you not read jc’s repsonse? The seeds *have* to be used every now and then to grow new plants, in order to harvest fresher seeds. Seeds do not retain viability forever; some can, indeed, still be viable after many years, others simply will not germinate if they are more than a year old. This was not any form of theft, it was a standard technique for retaining the seed stock.

  37. Keith Browning says:

    Does there have to be certain trace chemicals in the soil to get the best colouring? (Coloring in Ameringlish). I noticed some cobs look like they trend towards different colours, perhaps it’s a breeding thing.
    They look too precious to eat.

    • wanda says:

      I don’t think so; I got a wide variety of colors on some cobs, and pastels on others, one with every shade of purple and white, a metallic looking red one. I have others still in the garden (waiting for the husk to turn brown) and I can’t wait to see them. I’m hoping for at least one with just yellow and white like the bread and butter corn – even those look remarkable.

  38. Lori says:

    I grew some this summer, it’s popcorn! It is just as beautiful as the pictures..

    • Blythe says:

      I grew some this year as well, Lori. It came out wonderfully! I’m in Ohio. I can’t wait to grow even more next year! Thanks so much for carrying on and sharing this lovely seed, you guys!

      • Nikki says:

        Hi Blythe
        i am also in ohio and looking to purchase some ears of corn to serve at event i am hosting — do you have any available for sale?

  39. kolly says:

    If someone knows where could I buy the seeds? Just email me,thanks.
    I am chinese business man.

  40. jennifer says:

    A lot of folks are starting to offer Carl’s ‘Glass Gems’ corn. It is quite good as a roasting corn add well as for popcorn. I hear it is good as floor otr mask but have not personally tried that. Jenn

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