Grain of Zea mays. Staple food in many countries, made into tortillas in Latin America, polenta in Italy, and flaked as corn flakes breakfast cereal; various preparations in the southern states of the USA are known as hominy, samp and cerealine.
Two varieties of major commercial importance are flint corn (Zea mays indurata), which is very hard, and dent corn (Z. mays dentata); there is also sweet corn Z. mays saccharata, and a variety that expands on heating (Zea mays everta).
The starch prepared from Z. mays dentata is termed cornflour; the ground maize is termed maize meal.There is a white variety; the usual yellow colour is partly due to cryptoxanthin (a vitamin A precursor). Because of its low content of the amino acid tryptophan (and available niacin), diets based largely on maize are associated with the development of pellagra.