Classification and Morphology of Corn Plants (Zea mays L.)

Joko Warino S.P M.Si

Classification and Morphology of Corn Plants (Zea mays L.)

Plants from the Poaceae family, or the grass family, offer various benefits as a source of carbohydrates.

Additionally, these plants have diverse uses in the field of health, such as combating cancer, providing a source of protein, preventing anemia, maintaining immune system function, and serving as a source of potassium.

Corn, as one of the species in this plant family, can be consumed in various ways, including boiling, roasting, and so on.

In plant classification, corn has the scientific name Zea mays L. For more detailed information regarding the classification and morphology of corn plants, the explanation follows.

Classification of Corn Plants

In the taxonomy or systematic classification of plants, the classification of corn can be outlined as follows:

1. Kingdom: Plantae

Kingdom Plantae is one of the five kingdoms in the biological classification system, encompassing various types of plant organisms.

Plants are multicellular living beings that are typically sessile and capable of photosynthesis to produce their own food.

2. Division or Phylum: Angiospermae

Division Angiospermae, also known as flowering plants or covered seed plants, is characterized by the presence of flowers.

Flowers are reproductive structures involving sepals, petals, stamens, and pistils, where fertilization and seed formation occur after pollination.

3. Class: Monocotyledoneae

Class Monocotyledoneae, also known as Monocots, is one of the main classes within the division Angiospermae.

Plants in this class have one cotyledon in their seeds and possess distinctive characteristics that differentiate them from the other class, Dicotyledoneae (Dicots).

4. Order: Poales

The order Poales is part of the classification of flowering plants (Angiospermae) and falls within the class Monocotyledoneae (Monocots).

This order encompasses various types of plants that are ecologically and economically significant.

5. Family: Poaceae

The Poaceae family, also known as the grass family, is one of the largest, important, and diverse plant families globally.

This family includes more than 10,000 species of flowering plants, including important food crops such as corn.

6. Genus: Zea

The genus Zea is a flowering plant genus within the Poaceae family.

This genus is well-known for containing several important species that are part of the major food crops worldwide.

7. Species: Zea mays L.

Zea mays L., better known as corn or maize, is one of the most important and widely distributed food plant species globally.

Corn belongs to the Zea genus within the Poaceae family. This plant has a long history of domestication and comes in various varieties used for different purposes.

Morphology of Corn Plants

Morphology of Corn Plants

To understand the characteristics of this plant, here is the morphology of corn plants that you need to know:

1. Roots of Corn Plants

The root system of corn plants consists of fibrous roots that can reach depths of up to 8 meters, although most are typically around 2 meters deep.

Mature corn plants develop adventitious roots from the nodes of the lower stem, helping to support the plant’s upright growth.

2. Stem of Corn Plants

Corn plants have upright, easily visible, and jointed stems.

The joints are enclosed by leaf sheaths emerging from the nodes. The stems of corn plants have a low lignin content.

3. Leaves of Corn Plants

Corn plant leaves are elongated, light green during the early growth phase, dark green in the mature phase, and yellow in the old phase.

Ligules are present between leaf sheaths and leaf blades. Leaf veins run parallel to the midrib, with some leaf surfaces being hairy and others smooth.

Stomata are horseshoe-shaped and surrounded by epidermal cells resembling a fan.

4. Flowers of Corn Plants

Corn flowers consist of male and female flowers, each separated within one plant or are monoecious. Each spikelet has florets enclosed by a pair of glumes.

Male flowers grow at the top of the plant, featuring yellow anthers and a distinctive aroma.

5. Corn Cob

The cob grows from the axils between the stem and leaf sheaths. Generally, one corn plant produces one productive cob, despite having several female flowers. Male flowers open 2-5 days before female flowers.

6. Corn Silk

“Silk” in corn plants refers to the fine, silky hairs that grow from the tip of the female corn ear or tassel. Corn silk, usually white or light yellow, is about 2-3 centimeters long.

Each corn silk is a fine thread resembling silk and plays a role in the pollination process of corn plants, connecting to developing corn kernels inside the cob.

Types of Corn

Types of Corn

Based on the structure and shape of corn kernels, corn can be classified into several types, including:

1. Dent Corn

This type of corn has a hard starch portion on the side of the kernel, while the softer part is located in the middle to the tip of the kernel.

As the kernel dries, the soft starch loses water rapidly, causing that part to shrink more than the hard part, resulting in a dent at the top of the kernel. These corn kernels are large, dented, and flattened.

2. Flint Corn

The main characteristic of flint corn is its round, smooth, hard, and shiny shape. The top of the kernel has hard starch.

When the corn kernel matures, all parts wrinkle, giving the upper surface a crescent shape and a smooth texture.

Many local varieties in Indonesia fall into the flint corn category. This type is generally resistant to warehouse pests.

3. Pod Corn

Pod corn is the most primitive type of corn compared to other types. It is called primitive because its kernels are wrapped in glumes or husks that are small in size.

This type is not commercially cultivated, so it is less known to the general public. Native American tribes utilize it in various traditional ceremonies due to its believed high magical power.

4. Quality Protein Maize (QPM)

QPM is known for its very high lysine and tryptophan protein content, primarily found in the endosperm.

This corn contains the opaque-2 (o2) gene, which has a recessive trait in regulating the production of lysine and tryptophan.

The prolamin content in this corn regulates the formation of endosperm protein with lysine and tryptophan in lower amounts compared to other protein types.

The characteristic of these corn kernels is their dark color due to the high protein content in the endosperm.

5. Popcorn Corn

This corn has a small size, with endosperm containing a higher amount of hard starch than soft starch.

The soft starch is situated in the middle of the endosperm. Heating and steam entering the corn kernel cause it to swell and eventually burst.

6. High-Oil Corn

This type of corn has an oil content of more than 6%, while corn typically has an oil content of around 3-5%. About 85% of the total high-oil corn kernel contains oil in the scutellum.

This corn plays a crucial role in the food industry, especially for cooking oil, margarine, and livestock feed.

The consumption of high-oil corn by animals has a positive impact on their growth and development. This type of corn has various seed types, both flint and dent.

7. Sweet Corn

The distinctive feature of sweet corn kernels when cooked is wrinkled and appears translucent.

Before cooking, these corn kernels contain a much higher level of water-soluble polysaccharide (WSP) sugar than starch.

Generally, the sugar content in sweet corn can be 4-8 times higher compared to normal corn, especially at 18-22 days after pollination, and this trait is significantly influenced by the recessive sugary (su) gene.

8. Glutinous Corn

Glutinous corn has nearly perfect starch content, approaching 100% amylopectin. This is due to the recessive epistatic waxy (wx) gene, located on chromosome nine, significantly affecting the chemical composition of starch.

As a result, the accumulation of amylose in glutinous corn is relatively low.


Corn plants (Zea mays) belong to the kingdom Plantae, phylum Angiospermae, class Monocotyledonae, order Poales, family Poaceae, genus Zea, and species Zea mays.

Corn is a crucial global food crop and commodity. Understanding the classification and morphology of this plant is key to successful cultivation and care.

Information on the Classification and Morphology of Corn Plants is expected to make a positive contribution. Thank you.



Joko Warino S.P M.Si

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Joko Warino, a lecturer at one of the universities in Indonesia (Faculty of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, UIN Suska Riau Indonesia). My field of expertise is soil science.

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