Now, this is what I call huitlacoche!
I've seen lots of cool stuff in our maize research fields, but this is definitely this year's highlight so far! Some of the diversity panel landraces are particularly susceptible to corn smut, but none can hold a candle to our sweet corn varieties. This specimen was wrapped in a husk twice as big as any actual ears.
I learned in grad school that sweet corn was especially vulnerable to corn smut and I believe it! If I remember correctly, one of the seed companies once tried to set up a large scale sweet corn operation in the excellent corn-growing environment of Cali's Central Valley, but were wiped out by our friend, Ustilago maydis.
I'd have tried to cook it if my life wasn't so transient at the moment. More to come when I can take a breath from pollinating...