Despite popular belief, there’s not a kernel of truth in the notion that corn is native to the area that is now the United States. Although plant fossils as old as 80,000 years have been discovered in South America, corn was first cultivated in Central America and parts of what is now Mexico around 4000 B.C.E.
Back then, scientists believe, each kernel sprouted its own floral parts (like barley or oats). After farmers began to improve the crop by selecting the best traits of existing plants, corn slowly developed into the vegetable we know today.
When Mesoamerican natives began to migrate north, they brought corn with them. It finally reached New England about 1000 years ago, where Native Americans learned of its many uses. When the European settlers arrived, it is doubtful that any of them would have survived had the Native Americans not shared their knowledge of the planting and usage of corn.