Job's tears

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Job's tears
Coix lacryma-jobi1.jpg
Scientific classification
C. lacryma-jobi
Binomial name
Coix lacryma-jobi
  • Coix agrestis Lour.
  • Coix arundinacea Lam.
  • Coix chinensis Tod.
  • Coix chinensis Tod. ex Balansa nom. illeg.
  • Coix exaltata Jacq. ex Spreng.
  • Coix gigantea J.Jacq. nom. illeg.
  • Coix lacryma L. nom. illeg.
  • Coix ma-yuen Rom.Caill.
  • Coix ouwehandii Koord.
  • Coix ovata Stokes nom. illeg.
  • Coix palustris Koord.
  • Coix pendula Salisb. nom. illeg.
  • Coix pumila Roxb.
  • Coix stenocarpa (Oliv.) Balansa
  • Coix stigmatosa K.Koch & Bouché
  • Coix tubulosa Hack.
  • Lithagrostis lacryma-jobi (L.) Gaertn.
  • Sphaerium lacryma (L.) Kuntze nom. illeg.
  • Sphaerium tubulosum (Warb.) Kuntze

Job's tears (US) or Job's-tears (UK),[2] scientific name Coix lacryma-jobi, also known as adlay or adlay millet,[3] is a tall grain-bearing perennial tropical plant of the family Poaceae (grass family). It is native to Southeast Asia[4] but elsewhere is cultivated in gardens as an annual. It has been naturalized in the southern United States and the New World tropics. In its native environment it is grown in higher areas where rice and corn do not grow well. Other common names include coixseed, tear grass and Yi Yi (from Chinese 薏苡 yìyǐ).[5] Job's tears are also commonly sold as Chinese pearl barley in Asian supermarkets, although C. lacryma-jobi is not closely related to barley (Hordeum vulgare).

There are two main varieties of the species, one wild and one cultivated. The wild variety, Coix lacryma-jobi var. lacryma-jobi, has hard-shelled pseudocarps—very hard, pearly white, oval structures used as beads for making rosaries, necklaces, and other objects. The cultivated variety Coix lacryma-jobi var. ma-yuen is harvested as a cereal crop, has a soft shell, and is used medicinally in parts of Asia.[6]


The species was named by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 with the epithet as a Latin translation of the metaphorical tear of Job. As of February 2015, four varieties are accepted by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families:[7]

  • Coix lacryma-jobi var. lacryma-jobi. Widely distributed throughout the Asian subcontinent to peninsular Malaysia and Taiwan; naturalized elsewhere.
  • Coix lacryma-jobi var. ma-yuen (Rom.Caill.) Stapf. South China to peninsular Malaysia and the Philippines.
  • Coix lacryma-jobi var. puellarum (Balansa) A.Camus. Assam to Yunnan (China) and Indochina.
  • Coix lacryma-jobi var. stenocarpa Oliv.. Eastern Himalayas to Indochina.


Besides the use for ornamental purposes, Job's tears grains are useful as a source of food (cereals) and folk medicine.[8][9]

In both the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, the beads of Job's Tears are called "corn beads" or "Cherokee corn beads" and have been used for personal adornment since at least the time of the united Cherokee Republic. A common folk story is that the corn beads sprang up along the path during the 1838 forced march of many Cherokees to Oklahoma from their southeastern North American homelands by the U.S. military.[citation needed]



  1. ^ The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species, retrieved 6 August 2017
  2. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  3. ^ "Coix lacryma-jobi". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  4. ^ Taylor, G.D. (Autumn 1953). "Some crop distributions by tribes in upland Southeast Asia". Southwestern Journal of Anthropology. University of New Mexico. 9 (3): 296–308. doi:10.1086/soutjanth.9.3.3628701. JSTOR 3628701.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Arora, R.K. (1977). "Job's tears (Coix lacryma-jobi) - a minor food and fodder crop of northeastern India". Economic Botany. 31 (3): 358–366. doi:10.1007/bf02866887.
  7. ^ "Search for Coix lacryma-jobi". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2015-02-01.
  8. ^ Hill A.F. (1952). Economic Botany. McGraw-Hill.
  9. ^ Duke J.A. (1983). Handbook of Energy Crops.

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