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Coix lacryma-jobi - L.

Common Name Job's Tears
Family Poaceae or Gramineae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Wet places in grassland in the foothills of the Himalayas[146, 158]. Open sunny places to elevations of 2000 metrs in Nepal[272].
Range E. Asia - E. India.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Coix lacryma-jobi Job

Coix lacryma-jobi Job


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Coix lacryma-jobi is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9. It is in leaf from May to October, in flower from July to October, and the seeds ripen from September to November. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses: Coffee  Tea

Seed - cooked. A pleasant mild flavour, it can be used in soups and broths[269].. It can be ground into a flour and used to make bread or used in any of the ways that rice is used[1, 2, 57, 100, 183]. The pounded flour is sometimes mixed with water like barley for barley water[269]. The pounded kernel is also made into a sweet dish by frying and coating with sugar[269]. It is also husked and eaten out of hand like a peanut[269]. The seed contains about 52% starch, 18% protein, 7% fat[114, 174]. It is higher in protein and fat than rice but low in minerals[114]. This is a potentially very useful grain, it has a higher protein to carbohydrate ratio than any other cereal[57], though the hard seedcoat makes extraction of the flour rather difficult. A tea can be made from the parched seeds[46, 61, 105, 183], whilst beers and wines are made from the fermented grain[269]. A coffee is made from the roasted seed[183]. (This report refers to the ssp. ma-yuen)

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Seed (Fresh weight)
  • 380 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 11.2%
  • Protein: 15.4g; Fat: 6.2g; Carbohydrate: 65.3g; Fibre: 0.8g; Ash: 1.9g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 25mg; Phosphorus: 435mg; Iron: 5mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.28mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.19mg; Niacin: 4.3mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anodyne  Anthelmintic  Antiinflammatory  Antipyretic  Antirheumatic  Antispasmodic  Cancer  Diuretic  
Hypoglycaemic  Pectoral  Refrigerant  Sedative  Tonic  Warts

The fruits are anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, hypoglycaemic, hypotensive, sedative and vermifuge[218, 238]. The fruits are used in folk remedies for abdominal tumours, oesophageal, gastrointestinal, and lung cancers, various tumours, as well as excrescences, warts, and whitlows. This folk reputation is all the more interesting when reading that one of the active constituents of the plant, coixenolide, has antitumor activity[269]. The seed, with the husk removed, is antirheumatic, diuretic, pectoral, refrigerant and tonic[176, 218, 240]. A tea from the boiled seeds is drunk as part of a treatment to cure warts[116, 174]. It is also used in the treatment of lung abscess, lobar pneumonia, appendicitis, rheumatoid arthritis, beriberi, diarrhoea, oedema and difficult urination[147, 176]. The plant has been used in the treatment of cancer[218]. The roots have been used in the treatment of menstrual disorders[240]. A decoction of the root has been used as an anthelmintic[272]. The fruit is harvested when ripe in the autumn and the husks are removed before using fresh, roasted or fermented[238].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Beads  Fodder  Weaving

The seeds are used as decorative beads[1, 61, 100, 171, 272]. The stems are used to make matting[158].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Fodder: Bank  Hypothetical Crop  Management: Standard  Staple Crop: Balanced carb

Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[162]. Best grown in an open sunny border[1, 162]. Prefers a little shelter from the wind. Job's Tears is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation in the range of 61 to 429cm, an average annual temperature of 9.6 to 27.8°C and a pH in the range of 4.5 to 8.4[269]. Weed to some, necklace to others, staff-of-life to others, job's tear is a very useful and productive grass increasingly viewed as a potential energy source[269]. Before corn (Zea mays) became popular in Southern Asia, Job's tears was rather widely cultivated as a cereal in India[158, 269]. It is a potentially very useful grain having a higher protein to carbohydrate ratio than any other cereal[57]. The seed has a very tough shell however making it rather difficult to extract the grain. The ssp. ma-yuen. (Roman.)Stapf. is grown for its edible seed and medicinal virtues in China, the seedcoat is said to be soft and easily removed[57, 183]. This form is widely used in macrobiotic diets and cuisine[183]. The ssp. stenocarpa is used for beads[57]. Whilst usually grown as an annual, the plant is perennial in essentially frost-free areas[269]. Plants have survived temperatures down to about -35°c[160]. (This report needs verifying, it seems rather dubious[K].) Plants have often overwintered when growing in a polyhouse with us, they have then gone on to produce another crop of seed in their second year[K]. We have not as yet (1995) tried growing them on for a third year in a polyhouse[K].

Carbon Farming

  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Hypothetical Crop  These are perennial plants that could potentially be developed for cultivation. Some, such as cycads (for industrial starch), as simply neglected; others, such as buckwheat and soybeans, are annual crops that could potentially be perennialised by crossing and relatives.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Staple Crop: Balanced carb  (0-15 percent protein, 0-15 percent oil, with at least one over 5 percent). The carbohydrates are from either starch or sugar. Annuals include maize, wheat, rice, and potato. Perennials include chestnuts, carob, perennial fruits, nuts, cereals, pseudocereals, woody pods, and acorns.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - pre-soak for 2 hours in warm water and sow February/March in a greenhouse[164]. The seed usually germinates in 3 - 4 weeks at 25°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots. Grow them on in cool conditions and plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts[1, 164]. Seed can also be sown in situ in May[1] though it would be unlikely to ripen its seed in an average British summer. In a suitable climate, it takes about 4 - 5 months from seed to produce new seed[269]. Division of root offshoots[272]. This is probably best done in the spring as plants come into fresh growth[272].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

   Thu Apr 20 14:21:27 2000

This is a comment about your page. In 3 hours of searching the web, yours was the first to give the Chinese name(s) of this plant. For this I am extremely grateful. I I Jen and Yi Yi Ren are alternative readings of the same Chinese name and "Yokuinin" is the Japanese mispronunciation of that name. Please use this information if it is of any use to you.

DUBREUIL   Mon Nov 21 2005

i am looking for seeds of coix lacryma jobi var stenocarpa for using them for reparing clothes from Laos on witch they are used as embroidered decoration. Where can I find this type of seeds ? Merci Louis Dubreuil

richard miller   Wed Apr 26 2006

jobs tears are also helpful for babies teething

Andrew Martin   Mon Jan 22 2007

Coix lacryma-jobi has been proven to be the one of the most efficient plants for removal of heavy metal pollutants from water yet discovered (ref Professor Wu, Zhenbin et al, Research Center of Water Environmental Engineering Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, 2006)

Linda   Fri Mar 9 2007

I am looking for a couple of the Job's Tear plants, cannot seem to find them.

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Sat Mar 10 2007

This plant is usually grown from seed. A good source of this is Chiltern's Seeds at http://www.edirectory.co.uk/chilternseeds/.

Allen Goodson   Wed Oct 11 2006

SeedsHawaii Job's Tears seed for sale

Albert Schmaedick   Mon Aug 13 2007

Thank you so much for the valuable information. I am an American expat living in a Hil Tribe village in North Thailand.I represent a farmer's coop which is considering growing Jobe's tears as a cash crop. So wemay be asking you to list us as a cultivar in the near future. For now we are looking for a good source of seed to plant. Please let us know if you have any new information. We also have a web page which I will list below to be linked. The vilage people take tourists on herb walks and have a home stay program which gives people an experience of life in the village.

Lisu Home Stay and Crafts School Herb walks to identify traditional wild edible and medicinal plants used by the Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand. Also a home stay and crafts school in a Lisu Hill Tribe village.

Tom   Sat Dec 1 2007

At what depth do you plant the seeds, when you are growing Job's Tears from seed? This is not mentioned in the cultivation section.

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Fri Dec 28 2007

The seed is best sown about 1cm below soil level.

Albert   Tue Feb 5 2008

We now have Coix lacryma-jobi seeds for sale. You can order 100 seeds to 100 Kgs. Email [email protected] for details and see www.lisuhilltribe.com

Lisu HillTribe HomeStay and Crafts School Our program is located in a Lisu Tribal village in the mountainous Northern region of Thailand. We offer a cultural immersion opportunity to live with a Lisu family and learn there traditional farming and crafts skills. The Lisu are fond of sharing their knowledge of wild medicinal and edible plants. They are migrants from Tibet and originally they lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle as hunters and gatherers. They are a friendly and generous, fun-loving people with an ancient culture and much wisdom to share.

mrs duane jaixen(susie)   Mon Mar 31 2008

I belong to a group making Rosaaries. Read about this gentleman making them out of jobs tears and wondered where to get the seeds. I live in the north east corner of Texas and wondered if it is possible to grow them here/ Would appreciate any information about this. thank you Susie Jaixen po box 173Hooks, Texas 75561/0173

   Jul 1 2011 12:00AM

Be careful!!! medicinal or not, this plant is a huge pest in tropical climates. on behalf of every farmer that had to pull job's tears by hand - think, and don't spread noxious weeds just because they look pretty.

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