This corn is about 2 weeks premature to be picked. It had lots of green bugs and japanese beetles chowing on it, but I didn't do anything weird to it (no Ninja-Turtle ooze for instance). I can't remember the variety, it was a very long type of sweet corn.

It looked like some of the kernels just grew and grew and grew. Looking at the corn on the plant, I had thought that they were sprouting inside the cob. But then I opened it up and I almost barfed.

So does anyone know what this is and if I need to dispose of it or alert the authorities?

Corn? Gives me the willies

2 Answers 2


That's corn smut, a fungus. It's edible and a part of Mexican cuisine. I doubt that you need to notify the authorities, but given that USDA has been trying for decades to eradicate it in the US, it's not a bad idea to visit your state's Dept of Agriculture website just to make sure. Wikipedia has an entry on it, although it does not discuss how to prevent it from occurring on your corn again. I would treat it like I do any other fungal issue - by removing all parts of the plant from my garden and disposing in the garbage, not a compost heap.

  • 13
    Just for further reading: in Spanish, and often in English when speaking about Mexican food, it’s known as huitlacoche, and it’s delicious. Aug 2, 2020 at 15:00
  • 5
    It may be worth noting that while this fungus may be edible, there are fungi similar in appearance that definitely are not, and as with mushroom collecting an inexperienced consumer is at risk. Aug 3, 2020 at 14:10
  • Also worth noting that ergot primarily affects rye and sometimes wheat, not corn. It also looks a lot different than smut. To your point, though - no one should eat something that they do not definitively know to be edible.
    – Jurp
    Aug 3, 2020 at 16:10

Fungus usually comes from too much humidity, make sure not to spray your corn with water, especially when its been rainy or very humid.. consan or a copper fungicide may help you, but more so in the future..i wouldn't want to eat corn with high copper or fungicide levels but preventative treatment may help in future seasons

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