Zea mays L.

Last updated: 24 Mar 2017

Scientific Name

Zea mays L.

Synonyms

Mays americana Baumg. [Illegitimate], Mays vulgaris Ser., Mays zea Gaertn. [Illegitimate], Mayzea cerealis Raf. [Illegitimate], Mayzea cerealis var. gigantea Raf., Mayzea vestita Raf., Thalysia mays (L.) Kuntze [Illegitimate], Zea alba Mill., Zea altissima J.F.Gmel. ex Steud. [Invalid], Zea americana Mill., Zea amylacea Sturtev., Zea amyleosaccharata Sturtev. ex L.H.Bailey, Zea canina S.Watson, Zea cryptosprema Bonaf. [Illegitimate], Zea curagua Molina, Zea erythrolepis Bonaf., Zea everta Sturtev., Zea gigantea Voss [Invalid], Zea glumacea Larrañaga, Zea gracillima Voss, Zea hirta Bonaf., Zea indentata Sturtev., Zea indurata Sturtev., Zea japonica Van Houtte, Zea macrosperma Klotzsch, Zea maiz Vell., Zea mays subsp. acuminata Golosk., Zea mays subsp. amylacea (Sturtev.) Zhuk., Zea mays subsp. amyleosaccharata (Sturtev.) Zhuk., Zea mays subsp. aorista (Greb.) Golosk., Zea mays subsp. ceratina (Kuleshov) Zhuk., Zea mays var. ceratina Kuleshov, Zea mays subsp. everta (Sturtev.) Zhuk., Zea mays var. everta (Sturtev.) L.H.Bailey, Zea mays var. gracillima Körn. ex Hitchc., Zea mays f. hanakibi Makino, Zea mays var. hirta (Bonaf.) Alef., Zea mays subsp. huehuetenangensis (Iltis & Doebley) Doebley, Zea mays var. huehuetenangensis Iltis & Doebley, Zea mays subsp. indentata (Sturtev.) Zhuk., Zea mays var. indentata (Surtev.) L.H.Bailey, Zea mays subsp. indurata (Sturtev.) Zhuk., Zea mays var. indurata (Sturtev.) L.H.Bailey, Zea mays var. japonica (Van Houtte) Alph.Wood, Zea mays subsp. mays, Zea mays var. multicoloramylacea Yarchuk, Zea mays subsp. obtusa Golosk., Zea mays subsp. parviglumis Iltis & Doebley, Zea mays var. praecox Torr., Zea mays var. rugosa Bonaf., Zea mays subsp. saccharata (Sturtev.) Zhuk., Zea mays var. saccharata (Sturtev.) L.H.Bailey, Zea mays subsp. semidentata Kuleshov, Zea mays var. striatiamylacea Leizerson, Zea mays var. subnigroviolacea T.A.Yarchuk, Zea mays subsp. tunicata (A.St.Hil.) Zhuk., Zea mays var. tunicata A.St.Hil., Zea mays subsp. tunicata Sturtev., Zea mays f. variegata (G.Nicholson) Beetle, Zea mays var. variegata G.Nicholson, Zea mays var. virginica Bonaf., Zea mexicana subsp. parviglumis (Iltis & Doebley) Greb., Zea minima Voss [Invalid], Zea minor J.F.Gmel. ex Steud. [Invalid], Zea mucronata Poit. ex Vilm., Zea odontosperma Ten., Zea oryzoides Golosk., Zea praecox Steud. [Invalid], Zea rostrata Bonaf., Zea saccharata Sturtev., Zea segetalis Salisb. [Illegitimate], Zea tunicata (A.St.Hil.) Sturtev. ex L.H.Bailey, Zea vaginata Sturtev. [Invalid], Zea vittata Voss [Invalid], Zea vulgaris Mill. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Jagong [2][3]
English Apache red pop corn, baby Indian corn, corn silk, corn silks, corn tassels, dried peel corn, dried peeled corn, Inca purple corn, sweet corn, [2] maize, corn [3]
China Pao mi, yu mi xu, zhen zhu mi, bio gu, bio lu [3]
India Bara howar, bara juar, bari junri, bhuta, bhuththe, bhutta, bottah, buta, cholam, chujak, durah-kizan, durah-shami, durahkizan, durahshami, gandume makka, gandume-makkah, goinjol, gomdhan, hintahe-rumi, hintaherunu, jagung, janar, jonar, joona, jouar, junri, kandaja, kandarus, khandarus, khandaruz, khalavan, khoshahe makki, kukri, mahakaya, mahakayah, maichu, maka, makai, makai-bonda, makaya, makayah, makka bhuta, makka-cholam, makka javar, makka-jonna, makka jonnalu, makka sholam, makka-zonnalu, makkaccolam, makkah bhuttah, makkah jari, makkah javar, makkai, makkari, makkasholam, makkazonnalu, makki, makoi, makrai, makkasholam, makkazonnalu, makki, makoi, makrai, mekkejola, meksikan jola, moka, mokka janna, mokka jonna, mokkajanna, mokkajonna, mokkajonnalu, mosanam, mukka, mukka-jauri, munawairingu, musukojola, nahom, piyaan-buhintahe rumi, piyaanbu, pyaungboo, samputantastha, shikhalu, thang-tha, turka-cholam, yavanala, youdra, yugandhara, zonaloo, zurratul makka, zurratul-makkah, zurraltulmakkah, [2] annaj, makka, makaa’i, makaa (Hindi); makka cholam, mokkaiccoolam (Tamil); anaaj (Urdu) [3]
Sri Lanka Iringu, makka cholam [2]
Indonesia Jagung [2][3]
Thailand Bue khe sa, fot, khaao khae, khaao phot, khao phot, khaao saalee, khao Sali, phot, saalee, Sali, [2] khaaophot (Khaophot) [3]
Laos Khauz ph’ô:d, khauz sa:li:, [2][3]
Philippines Mais, [2] gahilang (Igorot); igi, tibi, tigi (Bontok); mait (Itogon); mañgi (Ibanag);
Cambodia Pôôt, [2][3]
Vietnam Ngô [3]
Korea Ok soo soo [3]
Japan Toumorokoshi (Tômorokoshi), fiirudo koon [3]
Arabic Âbu-âba, assengar, assenghar, beshna, djabbart, dra shami, sraia (the cob), drâ, drâ l-hamra, dhurah hindi, dura shami, dura shamiyah, el-qitâniya, gafouli masri, hdawa, hamabat, hind, hortania safra, hrîr ed-drâ, kaddab el-durra (the silky styles), l-kbal, l-kbala, l-mekkî, ligi, masar, msroura, qawleh (the cob), qbala (the cob), qttania, qwaleh (the cob), roum, rumi, s’ar ed-drâ, shurrabet el-dura (the silky styles), taratir el –dura (the silky styles), tifsî engafulî, turkia, umm abat, umm ghfara, umm habit, [2] dhurah, dhurah shamiyah, surratul makkah [3]
Iran Gaudume makka [3]
Turkey Cala puskulu, misir, misir puskulu, [2] kokoroz [3]
East Africa Bando [2]
Southern Africa Kiepiemielie, mielie, milie, miljie, soetmielie, springmielie, Turksch koorn, Turksche taruw; chaake (Sotho); godi (Shoan); ilimone (Zulu); lefela (Pedi); machele (Venda); umbila (Swati); umnuli (Ndebele) [2]
France Maïs, blé turc, blé d'Egypte, blé des Indes, blé de Turquie [3]
Angola Kivala, masa, masasi, macaroca de milho, milho [2]
Benin Gbadé, gbadésè, gbadoda, bérétobourou, tchara igbado [2]
Malawi Cimanga, imanga, mapiramanga, cingoma, nahebwe, ifirombe [2]
Tanzania Elubaeg [2]
Yoruba Agbado, igbado, erinigbado, eginrin, agbado, erinka, elepee, ijeere, oka, yangan [2]
Bolivia Sirionó, swan, maíz, choclo, maíz morocho, maíz morocho kharcaño, cubano Amarillo, cubano colorau, choclo morado, maíz cubano blanco, maíz blanco granillo, maíz blanco harinoso, maíz culle, maíz pipoca, maíz chjulpe, maíz ciriguno [2]
Brazil Cabelo-de-milho, milho [2]
Colombia Abá, ajkuá, capio, capio Amarillo, maíz Amarillo, maíz amarillo de parva, maíz arroz, maíz blanco, maíz carpio, maíz chicalá, maíz chocolate, maíz Cuba, maíz de harina, maíz de montaña, maíz disciplinado, maíz perla, maíz pira, maíz pollo, maíz reventón, maíz sabanero, maíz sabanero duro, maíz yucatán blanco, maíz zarco, marik, morocho, pé y peépetaké, pichimba, yomo [2]
Costa Rica Ink, kwo, whu [2]
Ecuador Shaa, pelo de choclo [2]
Guatemala Axi’n, choclo, elote, ishim, ixi’m, ixiim, ixim, maiz [2]
Mexico Ahtziri, bachi, batchi boc, cabellitos de elote, cabello de elote, cabellos de elote, cabellos de maíz, cal-coshacm, co-shac, cu, cushy, deta, deto, em, estilos de maíz, hapxöl, hun, icú, ishim ixi’im, ishin, ithilh, ixiim, ixim, ixin, lluca, maíz, maíz de coyote, maíz dulce, makui, mang-cú, mile, moc, mojc, mooc, moojc, ndechjó, nhal, nih-gnó, nua, nuh-ni, pi-nii-chita, pitili, shobe, shuba, siquil, sonú, sonucú, sunu, sunucú, tagol, tlaoli, tlaolli, tlautlín, tsiri, semilla, tziri taleta, xahuat, xi’im, xoopa, xuca, xupaac, yoobe, yuuri [2]
Nicaragua Am, ama, awási [2]
Paraguay Avatí, avatí morotí, avatí tupí, gueina, maiz [2]
Peru Chchullpi, cuchi, ubina, kcaillu-sara (= yellow corn), puca-sara (= red corn), sacjsa-sara [2]
West Indies Mais, mi [2]
Pacific Ahi [2]
Croatia Kukuruz [3]
Denmark Majs [3]
Germany Maïs, korrelmaïs, Turkse tarwe, Turkse koren, körnermais, echter mais, Türkisches korn, Tuerkisher mais, Tuerkisher weizen [3]
Estonia Mais [3]
Finland Maissi [3]
Italy Granturco, granoturco, formentone, grano di turchia, mais [3]
Portugal  Milho, milho forrageiro [3]
Russia Kukuruza obyknovennaia [3]
Spain Maíz, maíz comun, mijo turquesco [3]
Sweden Majs [3]
Mexico Lox yela' [3].

Geographical Distributions

Zea mays is native to Central America but is cultivated globally. IN Europe, the material of commerce originates from Austria and from southeastern European countries. Some of the supply in North America is cultivated in Mexico and in the United States. [3]

Botanical Description

Z. mays is a member of Poaceae family. [5] This plant can grows to height measures of 2-3 m, though some varieties have been known to grow to a height of measure 7m.  [3][5]

The stalk of the Z. mays resembles bamboo, but is lighter in colour and not as dense.  On average, the internodes are roughly 20-30 cm in length, separated by the large, flag-like leaves which reduce in size the further up the stalk they are. [6][7]

The inflorescence from the female Z. mays is commonly referred to as the “ears” are a seeds which are wrapped tightly in the leaves.  Until the time of harvest, the seeds are not visible. [6][7]

Each of the seeds is roughly 0.5 cm in diameter and grows tightly around the Z. mays cobs in a linear fashion.  The seeds are typically white or yellow, but can be blue, black, pink or red, depending on the variety of Z. mays. [6][7]

From the top of the seed cluster, grows a tuft of silky, hair-like strings, which, in reality, are elongated stigmas. [6][7]

Cultivation

Z. mays is herbaceous plant first cultivated in Central America 7,000 years ago.  Since then, it has been propagated throughout both the North and South American continents. [5]

Chemical Constituent

Z. mays extract was found to contain cis-alpha-terpineol, 6,11-oxidoacor-4-ene, citronellol, trans-pinocamphone, eugenol, neo-iso-3-thujanol, and cis-sabinene hydrate. [8]

Plant Part Used

Kernels or seeds and stigmas of the female flowers harvested prior to the fertilization period. [9][10][11]

Traditional Use

The poultice of Z. mays has been used to ease the sore throats. In the Native American tradition of using as much of a plant as possible, a decoction was made from the dried cobs in order to treat rashes such as poison ivy. [9]

The fresh Z. mays is an ideal habitat for the fungus Ustilago maydis, commonly known as “Corn smut”.  The fungus has been used as a salve in order to treat some dermatological complaints. [9]

When the grains of Z. mays are ingested for medicinal purposes, as opposed to nutritional purposes, they play a role in both the respiratory and digestive systems.  The Cherokee have used parched grains in order to increase lung capacity and improve respiratory function. [9]

Z. mays though native to the American continents have been established as a useful medicinal plant in several parts of Africa. It’s been widely used as a diuretic in some African traditional medical systems.  Typically an infusion or decoction of the styles is used in order to achieve the desired diuretic effect. [10][11] In other cases, the dried beards of the cob are decocted and ingested. [10]

In cases of kidney stones, a Maize infusion has been used in order to promote kidney health and treat cases of “gravel” in the kidneys, [9] specifically by those of the Cherokee tribe. [12]

Either gruel or an infusion of the grains has been used to treat diarrhoea. [12]

Many Native American tribes also found the most uniform use of Z. mays is that of a diuretic.  Most often a tea is made either from the silky hairs or the seeds in order to stimulate the bladder and ease pain in cases of cystitis. [13]

The diuretic properties of Z. mays have also been used to treat urinary tract infections, gout and rheumatism. [14]

Externally, some Native American tribes have found uses for Z. mays.  A poultice consisting of the meal made from the seeds has been used to treat numerous dermatological maladies and wounds. [14]

The tea made from Z. mays has also been used by several Native American tribes to treat low blood sugar and high blood pressure. [15]

The grains of corn have also been used externally to treat and remove warts. [15]

U. maydis has also been used in order to both induce and ease labour, [12] and induce delivery of the afterbirth [15].

This has led to the use of Z. mays to treat some urino-genital conditions. The same application has also been used as a hepatoprotective, as Z. mays is thought to be very useful for treating liver maladies. [16]

Z. mays has been used to treat general fever along with some bronchial conditions. Typically, the macerated leaved are either ingested directly, or dilute in order to treat both fever [16] and persistent cough [10].

Additionally, Z. mays has been thought to be useful in cases of hypertension. The liquid from boiled stigmas has been thought to be effective in lowering blood pressure. [10]

Z. mays is also thought to be effective in treating open sores, wounds and general skin disorders. Perhaps most often, the plant is burned or charred and the ash applied directly to the maligned area. [17]

Z. mays is thought to be not only analgesic, but anti-inflammatory. [18]

Preclinical Data

Pharmacology

Diuretic activity

Aqueous extract of Z. mays was found to exhibit diuretic activity in adult male Wistar rats. Results indicate that the diuretic effect of 5% aqueous Z. mays extract is in accordance with the increase in glomerular filtration rate and inhibition of sodium and chloride tubular reabsorption, thereby increasing their urinary excretion. [19][20]

Antioxidant activity

Aqueous acetone and methanol extract of Z. mays was found to exhibit antioxidant activity. [21][22] The main constituents of Z. mays with antioxidant activity include the volatile compounds cis-alpha-terpineol (24.22%), 6,11-oxidoacor-4-ene (18.06%), citronellol (16.18%), trans-pinocamphone (5.86%), eugenol (4.37%), neo-iso-3-thujanol (2.59%), and cis-sabinene hydrate (2.28%). [8]

Ethanol-water extract of Z. mays was found to exhibit antioxidant activity. Results indicated that Z. mays extract contained a significant amount of phenol and flavonoids. The percentage of DPPH radical scavenged by Z. mays extract was 92.6 at a concentration of 1.6 mg ml-1. IC50 of the extract and the standard compounds butylated hydroxytoluene (BHA) and quercetin was 0.59, 0.053, and 0.025 mg ml-1, respectively. Iron chelating activity of the extract was less than the standard compounds. [23]

Antitumour activity

Crude ethanolic extract of Z. mays has been reported in a laboratory study to inhibit tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) and E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced adhesion molecules and leukocyte adhesion to endothelial cell surface. [23]

Toxicity

No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.

Dosage

Dosage Range

0.5–1.0 g powdered herb, 1-4 times per day. [4]

Most Common Dosage

Prepare tea using 0.5 g placed in cold water, then boiled. Several cups of tea per day may be used as a diuretic. [4]

Standardisation

No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.

References

  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Zea mays L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23, cited 2017 Mar 27]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-450362.
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume V R-Z. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 827-828.
  3. Philippine Medicinal Plants. Mais (Zea mays). [homepage on the Internet]. No date [updated 2013 Mar, cited 2017 Mar 27]. Available from: http://www.stuartxchange.com/Mais.html.
  4. Wichtl M. Herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals. Stuttgart: MedPharm CRC Press; 1994, p. 374-375.
  5. Flora of China. Zea mays Linnaeus. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2017 Mar 24]. Available from: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200026507.
  6. Encyclopedia of Life. Zea mays. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2017 Mar 24]. Available from: http://eol.org/pages/1115259/details.Zea mays botanical description and physical characteristics. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [updated 2014 Apr 15, cited 2017 mar 24]. Available from: https://www.mdidea.com/products/new/new072b.html.
  7. El-Ghorab A, El-Massry KF, hibamoto T. Chemical composition of the volatile extract and antioxidant activities of the volatile and non-volatile extracts of Egyptian corn silk (Zea mays L.). J Agric Food Chem. 2007;55(22):9124-9127.
  8. Moerman DE.  Native American ethnobotany. Portland OR: Timber Press; 2009.
  9. Neuwinger HD. African traditional medicine: A dictionary of plant use and applications. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Gmbh Scientific Publishers; 2000.
  10. Buolos L. Medicinal plants of North Africa.  Algonac, MI: Reference Publications; 1983:349.
  11. Hatfield G. Encyclopedia of folk medicine: Old World and New World traditions. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc, 2004; p. 93-97.
  12. Sacred Earth. Ethnobotany & Ecotravel. Plant profile: Corn. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2017 Mar 24]. Available from: http://www.sacredearth.com/ethnobotany/plantprofiles/corn.php.
  13. Miczak M. Nature’s weeds, native medicine: Native American herbal secrets. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press, 1999; p. 21-22.
  14. Heatherley AN. Healing plants: A medicinal guide to Native North American plants and herbs. Guilford CT: Lyons Press; 1998.
  15. Schmeltzer GH, Gurib-Fakim A, Arroo RRJ, Bosch CH, de Ruijter A, Simmonds MSJ. Medicinal plants 1. Wageningen, Netherlands: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa; 2008.
  16. Gelfand M, Mavi S, Drummond RB, Ndemera B. The traditional medical practitioner in Zimbabwe.  Gweru, Zimbabwe: Mambo Press, 1985; p. 324.
  17. Baerts-Lehmann M, Lehmann J.  Prelude Medicinal Plants Database.  Zea mays L.. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2017 Mar 24]. Available from: http://www.africamuseum.be/collections/external/prelude/results.
  18. Maksimović Z, Dobrić S, Kovacević N, Milovanović Z. Diuretic activity of Maydis stigma extract in rats. Pharmazie. 2004;59(12):967-971.
  19. Velazquez DV, Xavier HS, Batista JE, de Castro-Chaves C. Zea mays L. extracts modify glomerular function and potassium urinary excretion in conscious rats. Phytomedicine. 2005;12(5):363-369.
  20. Maksimović Z, Malencić D, Kovacević N. Polyphenol contents and antioxidant activity of Mydis stigma extracts. Bioresour Technol. 2005;96(8):873-877.
  21. Maksimović ZA, Kovacević N. Preliminary assay on the antioxidative activity of Mydis stigma extracts. Fitoterpia. 2003;74(1-2):144-147.
  22. Ebrahimzadeh MA, Pourmorad F. Hafezi S.  Antioxidant activities of Iranian corn silk. Turk J Biol. 2008;32:43-49.
  23. Habtemariam S. Extract of corn silk (stigma of Zea mays) inhibits the tumour necrosis factor-alpha- and bacterial lipopolysaccharide-induced cell adhesion and ICAM-1 expression. Planta Med. 1998;64(4):314-318.