Corn, which is no longer able to reproduce in nature, achieves reproduction in an unusual manner. It retains both the male and female characteristics necessary to achieve fertilization.
At the very top of a mature corn stalk are its flowerlike tassels, which contain male gametes. At a certain time of the year, the gametes are released as pollen.
The female flowers are found inside the corn's husk. Silk strands, which are the stigmas of the flowers, protrude from the exterior of the husk, where they await fertilization by pollen.
Once pollen comes in contact with the exposed stigmas, it germinates and a pollen tube grows through the silk to the egg cell of the female flower; enabling fertilization and ensuring that kernels grow.
Although corn silk has long been used by humans to cure a variety of ailments, little scientific evidence is available to back up many of these health claims.