Family • Graminaceae - Zea mays - CORN - Pao mi

Scientifica names

Zea mays L.
Yu shu shu (Chin.)

Common names

Gahilang (Ig.)
Igi (Bon.)
Mait (It.)
Maize (Engl.)
Mañgi (Ibn.)
Tibi, (Bon.)
Tigi (Bon.)
Corn (Engl.)
Pao mi (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

ARABIC: Dhurah, Dhurah shamiyah, Surratul makkah. LAOTIAN: Khauz ph’ô:d, Khauz sa:li:.
CHINESE: Yu mi xu, Zhen zhu mi, Bio gu, Bio lu. MALAY: Jagong, Jagung (Indonesia).
CROATIAN: Kukuruz. PERSIAN: Gaudume makka.
DANISH: Majs. PORTUGUESE: Milho, Milho forrageiro.
DUTCH: Maïs, Korrelmaïs, Turkse tarwe, Turkse koren. RUSSIAN: Kukuruza obyknovennaia.
ESTONIAN: Mais. SPANISH: Maíz, Maíz comun, Mijo turquesco.
FRENCH: Maïs, Blé turc, Blé d’Egypte, Blé des Indes, Blé de Turquie. TAMIL: Makka cholam, Mokkaiccoolam.
GERMAN: Körnermais, Echter Mais, Türkisches Korn, Tuerkisher Mais, Tuerkisher Weizen. THAI: Khaaophot (Khaophot).
HINDI: Anaaj, Makka, Makaa’i, Makaa. TURKISH: Kokoroz
ITALIAN: Granturco, Granoturco, Formentone, Grano di Turchia, Mais. URDU: Anaaj.
JAPANESE: Toumorokoshi (Tômorokoshi), Fiirudo koon. VIETNAMESE: Ngô
KHMER: Pôôt. ZAPOTEC: Lox yela’
KOREAN: Ok soo soo.

Mais is a very coarse, erect, tall grass, 1.5 to 2 meters high. Stem is solid, with a soft and spongy center. Leaves are numerous and close together, 30 to 100 centimeters long and 2 to 10 centimeters wide, linear lanceolate. Male inflorescence is erect and terminal; the female inflorescence on the axils of the leaves, cylindric and large. The individual fruit (grain) is is roundish or reniform, compressed, smooth, shining, yellow, white, reddish or even purplish-black.


– Extensively cultivated in most parts of the Philippines. In some islands and provinces, it is a staple article of food.
– Native of America.
– Extensively grown in the tropics and temperate regions of the world.

– Analysis showed percentage of carbohydrate is high, with a good content of protein and fat, with a higher percentage of protein and fat than any other cereal.
– Corn lacks gluten.
– Constituents: Flavonoids, chlorogenic acid, saponins, volatile alkaloid, allantoin, tannins, resin.
– Corn silk yields maizeric acid, 2%; fixed oil; resin; sugar; mucilage and salts.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Corn / Zea mays 

(2) Zea Mays / Sweet Corn / Plants for a Future

(3) The influence of Zea mays on urinary risk factors for kidney stones in rats / F Grases et al / Phytotherapy Research • Volume 7 Issue 2, Pages 146 – 149 / DOI 10.1002/ptr.2650070210

(4) Studies on the individual and combined diuretic effects of four Vietnamese traditional herbal remedies (Zea mays, Imperata cylindrica, Plantago major and Orthosiphon stamineus) / Doan Du Dat, Nguyen Ngoc Ham et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 36, Issue 3, June 1992, Pages 225-231 / doi:10.1016/0378-8741(92)90048-V

(5) Zea mays L. extracts modify glomerular function and potassium urinary excretion in conscious rats / Velasquez, DVO et al / International Journal of Phytotherapy & Phytopharmacology, May 2005

(6) Sorting Zea names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(7) Dissecting tocopherols content in maize (Zea mays L.), using two segregating populations and high-density single nucleotide polymorphism markers / Xu Shutu, Zhang Dalong, Cai Ye, Zhou Yi, Trushar Shah, Farhan Ali, Li Qing, Li Zhigang, Wang Weidong, Li Jiansheng, Yang Xiaohong and Yan Jianbing* / BMC Plant Biology 2012, 12:201 doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-201

(8) Phytochemicals screening and total phenolic content of Malaysian Zea mays hair extracts / Solihah, M.A., *Wan Rosli, W.I. and Nurhanan, A.R. / International Food Research Journal 19(4): 1533-1538 (2012)

(9) Nutritional evaluation of baby corn (zea mays) / Santosh Hooda and Asha Kawatra / Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 43 Iss: 1, pp.68 – 73

Considered anodyne, antilithic, antiseptic, cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, lithotriptic, tonic, vasodilator.

Parts used
Hairs and cobs.

Edibility / Nutritional
• Edible parts: Pollen, seed (raw or cooked), stem.
• Good source of carbohydrates, B vitamins (riboflavin and thiamine), vitamin A and C, potassium and zinc; rich in protein.
• Corn syrup is used in the manufacture of jams, jellies and other sweets.
• Corn syrup is often used in combination with cane sugar and maple syrup.
• Corn starch is well known for its many uses.
• Edible oil is obtained from the seed, used for salads or cooking.
• Roasted seed use as a coffee substitute.


• Diuretic: Take decoction of hairs or cobs as tea.
• Decoction of pith of cob as tea is used for stomach complaints.
• Decoction of roots, leaves, and corn silk used for dysuria, bladder complaints, and bed-wetting.
• The water in which unhusked corn is boiled is a pleasant tasting remedy for urinary tract infection. The corn silk decoction is also thought to be diuretic.
• Good emollient poultice used for ulcers, rheumatic pains and swellings.
• Decoction of parched corn (burned or roasted) taken as tea for nausea and vomiting.
• Infusion of parched corn allays the nausea and vomiting of many diseases.
• Kidney stones: Infusion of corn hair in hot water, 3x daily.
• Poultice of corn silk for wounds and sores.
• In Europe, corn silk (stigma) used for genitourinary diseases. Also used for similar purposes in French Guinea, India, Spain and Greece.
• In China, corn silk is used for fluid retention and jaundice.

Row of green corn (maize) growing in the field during summer
• The embryo is rich in oil and used widely for cooking, manufacture of soaps.
• Sticky gum containing dextrin used for sealing envelops and gummed labels.
• Corn syrup is used in the manufacture of jams, jellies and other sweets.
• Corn starch is well known for its many uses.
• Glue made from the start in the seed.
• Used for making alcohol.
• Cobs used to supply potash and by distillation can yield acetic acid and acetone. By controlled fermentation, may also yielded nitro-cellulose lacquers.
• Starch used in cosmetics.
• Stem fiber used in making paper.
• Corn spathe used for making straw hats and baskets.
• Corn silk infusion, fresh or dried: cystitis, 1 cup 3x daily.
• As tincture: 3 cc (50 drops) 3x daily for cystitis.

Study Findings
• Diuretic / Histopathological Studies: Three indigenous medicinal plants were studied: C citratus, R sativus, and Zea mays. No morphometrical or histological changes were noted in the liver and kidney of rats. Study concludes that the common use of these indigenous diuretic plants is safe.
• Diuretic / anti-lithiasis effect: The influence of Zea mays on urinary risk factors for kidney stones in rats: The study suggests the possible antilithiatic effect of ZM infusion is probably through some diuretic activity.
• No Diuretic Effect: In a study of four traditional Vietnamese herbal remedies (Z mays, I cylindrica, Plantago major, O stamineus) claiming to increase diuresis, no diuretic effect was seen in a placebo-controlled double-blind crossover model.
• Anti-Diabetic: The Favorable Effect of Style of Zea mays L. on Streptozotocin Induced Diabetic Nephropathy: Study indicates the WE of ZM suppressed the progression of diabetic glomerular sclerosis in ST-induced diabetic rat.
• Anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor: Interfering with leukocyte adhesion is important in the treatment of bacterial sepsis and inflammatory diseases. Study of the crude methanolic extract of Zea mays exhibited significant TNF antagonistic activity and concludes that corn silk has potential for TNF- and LPS-mediated leukocyte adhesion and trafficking.
• Renal Effects: In water-loaded conscious rats (2.5 cc/100 body wt), corn silk aqueous extract was found to be diuretic at 500 mg KBW and kaliuretic at 300 and 500 mg KBW. At 5.0 cc/100 g BW, CSAE is kaliuretic at 500 mg KBW but glomerular filtration and filter load decreased without affecting proximal tubular function, sodium or uric acid excretion.
• Antibacterial Activity: Zea mays alcoholic extract showed activity against Klebsiella pneumonia, E coli, Salmonella paratyphi A, Salmonella typhi and B. subtilis.
• Dissecting Tocopherols Content: Study identified QTLs (quantitative trait loci) with major effects in the natural variation of tocopherols in maize grain. Study provides a guideline for breeders to improve traits that can minimize the risk of malnutrition, especially in developing countries.
• Mays Hair Extracts / Phytochemicals and Phenolic Content: Study screening mays hair extracts for bioactive compounds yielded saponins, flavonoids, tannins, phlobatannins, phenols, alkaloids, and cardiac glycosides in both aqueous and methanolic extracts. Findings suggest potential applications as therapeutic and antioxidative agents in pharmaceuticals, food, and other related industries.
• Nutritional Evaluation of Baby Corn: Study showed baby corn is a good source of various nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, crude and dietary fibers, and is a par or even superior in nutritional qualities to many other commonly used vegetables.

Commercial cultivation.
Corn silk, tea extracts in the cybermarkets.