What is the black stuff on my corn?

Have you ever looked at a cob of corn only to find it dotted with strange black spots? If so, you’re not alone! Lots of people have seen this and wondered what the black stuff is. Well, wonder no more—we’re here to help you decode the mystery of the black stuff on corn.

What Is It?

The black stuff is actually a type of fungal disease known as corn smut. This fungus lives inside the kernels of the corn and causes them to swell up into big, dark tumors. While this may sound unappetizing, don’t worry—the fungus is perfectly harmless and can even be eaten! In fact, in some parts of Mexico, corn smut is considered a delicacy and is sold in markets under the name huitlacoche (pronounced ‘weet-la-KO-tcheh’).

How Does It Happen?

Corn smut happens when a certain type of fungus called Ustilago maydis infects the plant. The spores from this fungus are spread by wind or water droplets and eventually make their way into one or more ears of corn. Once infected, the fungus will begin to grow inside the kernels, resulting in those large dark tumors that are characteristic of corn smut.

What Should I Do If I Find It On My Corn?

If you find corn smut on your cob, don’t panic—it’s totally normal! You can either remove any affected kernels before cooking or simply go ahead and cook it as usual. Alternatively, if you feel adventurous, why not give huitlacoche a try? There are plenty of recipes online for how to make tasty dishes with huitlacoche—from quesadillas to tamales—so why not give it a go?


All in all, there’s no need to worry if you ever come across any mysterious black spots on your corn cobs; they’re most likely just harmless fungal disease known as corn smut. And while it may look unappetizing at first glance, don’t forget that huitlacoche has been enjoyed by many cultures around the world for centuries! So next time you spot some black spots on your cob – don’t fret – just get creative with your cooking and enjoy!


Q: What is corn smut and how does it get on my corn?

A: Corn smut is an infectious fungal disease that affects the kernels of corn. It can be spread by wind or water droplets, and then infects the corn plant once it comes in contact with it.

Q: Is corn smut dangerous or harmful?

A: No, corn smut is completely harmless. In fact, some cultures have even come to enjoy it as a delicacy! So don’t worry if you find it on your corn – just treat it like any other part of the plant and cook or eat it however you like.

Q: How can I prevent corn smut from infecting my corn?

A: There is no surefire way to prevent corn smut, as it is usually spread by wind or water droplets. However, some tips for reducing your risk of infection include watering and harvesting your plants carefully, cleaning and sanitizing all gardening tools, and removing any weeds or other plants that may be growing in the area. Additionally, you can try to purchase disease-resistant corn varieties whenever possible.