Corda Corn Smut, Cuitlacoche, Huitlacoche Ustilago maydis

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Mushrooms

Mushrooms

By Roger Phillips

Published 2006

Corda Corn Smut, Cuitlacoche, Huitlacoche Ustilago maydis (DC) Corda (illustrated 50% life size) Form bulbous, greyish-white growth with black interior on corn (maize) cobs, sometimes grey-black patches on leaves or stems. Teliospores are dispersed by wind on maturity, overwintering in the soil to infect the next year’s growth. Pseudohyphae and short hyphae with clamp connections sometimes present. Blastoconidia irregular, fusiform. Habitat on maize plants; summer to autumn. Rarely reported in Britain, but on the increase as corn becomes more common; found all over the world, most easily in Mexico and some parts of the United States. Edible choice when maturing on corn cobs; for best eating, should be harvested 16–18 days after infection, once the teliospores are mature. Note for farmers all over the world this smut fungus has been considered a pest, but in Mexico the infected corn is a delicacy known as Cuitlacoche or Huitlacoche (the name taken from the ancient Nauhatl); here and in some parts of the United States crops are deliberately infected.

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