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Purple Flour Corn

Zea mays, convar. amylacea


This corn was acquired by Dr. Theodore Hetzel from a northern Pennsylvania collector of Indian artifacts who specialized in Susquehannock culture.  However, the name given this corn by the collector (Royal Minquas) was suspect because neither the Susquehannocks nor their Iroquois enemies would have called it Minquas. This term is widely used in local Indian histories without full realization that it derives from a pejorative Lenape term they applied to all Susquehannocks.  Lenape disdain for the Susquehannocks was only counterbalanced by their willingness to trade with them since the Great Minquas Path terminated at Kingsessing, a Lenape trading emporium on the banks of the Schuylkill River.


What we can say about this corn with some certainty is that it is indeed a purple flour corn and may be similar to or the same as a purple flour corn recorded among the Iroquois as “soft purple” by Arthur Parker (1910:43). Its culinary qualities are excellent because we have experimented with it.  Furthermore, Parker noted that during the Sullivan Campaign against the Iroquois, Hercules Beatty, one of Sullivan’s officers, observed that in an abandoned village corn and beans were still boiling on the fire and that the corn was purple (Parker, 1910:42). Parker continued to point out that during an interview with an elderly Seneca, oral tradition asserted that their purple flour corn was one of several brought back from the South during raiding expeditions.  For this reason, we also suggest that Purple Flour Corn should be included with the garden traditions of the Southeastern Indians.


Plants generally reach a height of 6 to 7 feet, with 2 cobs per plant 10 to 18 inches above the ground, rarely higher. Tillers produce baby cobs that can be pickled or stewed as a vegetable. The 5 to 6-inch cobs on the main plant normally exhibit 8 rows of deep violet kernels ripening in 110-120 days. Occasional jumping genes throw white kernels, which should be discarded when saving seeds. Like Tutelo Strawberry Corn, this represents a genetic throwback to a white ancestor. Additionally, Purple Flour Corn will produce occasional plants with red tassels and red roots. This is an original trait that is not well-preserved and should be restored through vigorous reselection.


~25 seeds per starter packet.

Purple Flour Corn

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