Ear (botany)

An ear is the grain-bearing tip part of the stem of a cereal plant, such as wheat or maize.[1] It can also refer to "a prominent lobe in some leaves."[2]

Three unripe ears (of barley, wheat, and rye): each has many awns (bristles)

The ear is a spike, consisting of a central stem on which tightly packed rows of flowers grow. These develop into fruits containing the edible seeds. In corn (maize), an ear is protected by leaves called husks.[3] Inside an ear of corn is a corncob.

In some species (including wheat), unripe ears contribute significantly to photosynthesis, in addition to the leaves lower down the plant.

A parasite known as Anguina tritici (Ear Cockle) specifically affects the ears on wheat and rye by destroying the tissues and stems during growth. The parasite has been eradicated in most countries (with the exception of North Africa and West Asia) by using the crop rotation system.[4]


  1. Jackson, Benjamin Daydon (1928). A Glossary of Botanic Terms with their Derivation and Accent (fourth ed.). London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd. p. 121.
  2. Swartz, Delbert (1971). Collegiate Dictionary of Botany. New York: The Ronald Press Company. p. 162.
  3. Lerner, Rosie. "Corn - Ears". Senior Study Vegetables. Purdue University. Retrieved 2012-05-24.
  4. "Ear Cockle Disease of Wheat". Agrihunt. Retrieved 24 May 2012.

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