Daily Mail

Oklahoma

These extraordinary images may appear to show colourful boiled sweets or even glass beads - but in fact, they show specially bred ears of corn.

Glass Gem corn was developed by a Native American farmer who noticed that every so often, a cob showed signs of unusual colouring shining through.

Now the unique strain is available for purchase online, and is in hot demand from gardeners keen to add a touch of colour to their vegetable patch.

The crop originates from Oklahoma, where part-Cherokee farmer Carl Barnes had the idea of gathering colourful ears of corn and breeding them together.

As the years went on, he managed to produce corn displaying dozens of different colours on a single cob.

Shortly before he died, Mr Barnes passed on his seed collection and breeding know-how to his friend Greg Schoen and asked him to safeguard the Glass Gem tradition.

In 2010, Mr Schoen decided he had to find a permanent home for the collection, and gave the seeds to Bill McDorman, owner of a small seed comany in Arizona.

‘I was blown away,’ Mr McDorman said of the first time he grew Glass Gem corn. ‘No one had ever seen corn like this before.’

The seedsman is now head of Native Seeds/SEARCH, a non-profit organisation which seeks to preserve the agricultural heritage of the Native Americans.

The organisation sells Glass Gem seeds through its website for $7.95 (£4.90) per packet, although they are so highly sought-after that they are frequently sold out.

The corn can be used to make flour or popcorn, although it is not recommended to eat it straight off the cob.