New England Farmer 1(6): 48 (Sept. 7, 1822)

From the Old Colony Memorial.

Papoon Corn

To the EditorSIR,

In your last paper, a correspondent inquires, "from whence came the sweet corn, and at what time was it introduced here?"

* Captain Richard Bagnal, then a Lieutenant.
There called the Papoon corn, probably from its tenderness and sweetness made the food of children.

Of the natural history of the sweet corn, it is presumed, that, with all the other species of the Indian corn, it is indigenous to America. Of this particular species, nothing was known in this section of the country (if in New England) before 1779. In that year an expedition under the command of General Sullivan, was sent against the Six nations of Indians, inhabiting on the borders of the Susquehannah. Poor's brigade made a part of that expedition. A gentleman from this place,* then an officer in that brigade, on his return, after the expedition, brought some ears of that corn. That was the first of the species ever seen here, and has, since that time, been more and more diffused; and I believe within a few years only, has been generally and extensively cultivated for culinary purposes. The species has undergone some change since it was first introduced—then the core was a bright crimson, and after being boiled, and the corn taken off, if the core was laid in contact with any linen (the table cloth or a napkin,) it communicated an indelible stain. This inconvenience has disappeared. This species also, like what is distinguished by the appellation of southern or flat corn, by repeated planting here, assimilates it to our local corn— for a number of years I was careful in selecting the largest and fairest ears for seed, until it grew nearly as large and fair as the common corn, and at the same time lost much of its peculiar qualities, softness and sweetness; and I concluded it would, in process of cultivation, become assimilated to the common corn of New England, although I accidentally discovered that the ears which were produced on the suckers (and it is very much disposed to sucker,) were smaller, much more shrivelled, and in appearance perfectly similar to the corn which I first remembered to have seen. I then selected some of the ears from the suckers, which were sufficiently ripe, and served for seed, and found, that on the next year's planting, I had reproduced corn, at the least ten years' retrograde; and have since then annually saved a portion of seed in that mode. The fact will be obvious to any one who is in the practice of gathering the corn, that the ears which are produced on the suckers, though small, retain the milk longer, and are suitable for the table longer, than those that are produced on the heading stalks. If these hints can give any satisfaction to your querist, or can, in your opinion, be the occasion of eliciting any further information on the natural history of sweet corn, you will please give them a place in your vehicle of agricultural and historical information.


Black Mexican Sweet Corn