Glass Gem Corn: An Artful Heirloom

Glass Gem corn is an artful expression of heirloom history. Its range of jewel tones, worthy of a museum display, is an homage to the treasured Native American varieties from which it was drawn.

Glass Gem corn was originally created by Carl “White Eagle” Barnes, a corn collector of Cherokee descent. The variety has passed through the hands of several dedicated heirloom corn growers and breeders, and this small network helped to enhance and perfect the Glass Gem. The result? A stunning flint or popping corn that knows no equal!

Carl Barnes

Barnes was born in Oklahoma in 1928 and lived through the Dust Bowl years on his family’s homestead in the Panhandle.  Half Scotch Irish, half Cherokee, Carl’s grandfather taught him about the spiritual significance of corn — a lifetime fascination that framed his breeding work until his death in 2016. Carl’s interest in corn was much more than a hobby; he also studied agriculture and worked for the cooperative extension office in Oklahoma.

As he grew Native American corn, Carl began to recognize traits known in certain lost varieties. Through breeding, he revived some of these old corns and reunited tribes with their long-lost heirloom treasures.

Glass Gem’s spectacular eye appeal, coupled with its versatility, makes it a sensational ambassador for heirloom corn.

The highly photogenic ears made Glass Corn internet famous, splashing it across the pages of dozens of publications and websites. Glass Gem even has its own Facebook page with more than 20,000 followers!

The translucent kernels really do shine brilliantly like glass. On the cob they resemble strands of glass beads! The 3-to-8 inch ears are consummately decorative, but the kernels make very fine popcorn —  and they can also be parched, ground into meal, and more.

Carl Barnes put great love and respect into saving these varieties and was dedicated to sharing them with the next generation of seed savers. We are grateful for his life’s work.

Find Glass Gem corn seeds here.