The Q&A Archives: Job's Tears History

Question: I would like to know some history of job's tears. I hear they go way back in history? Looks like corn. Is it edible?
Where can I get information on this weird plant?

Answer: Coix lacryma-jobi is the botanical name of Job's Tears. The plant grows 36" high.

This ornamental grass is grown for the gray to
black seeds that form on the flower stalks. These bead-
like structures are actually the female flowers. They can
be used to make jewelry when they are fully mature. The
largest plants will result when the plant is given partial
shade although it will tolerate full sun. Job's Tears
will adapt to wet soils so may be used near water.

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. Before Zea became popular in South Asia, Coix was rather widely cultivated as a cereal in India. Still taken as a minor cereal, it is pounded, threshed and winnowed, as a cereal or breadstuff. The pounded flour is sometimes mixed with water like barley for barley water. The pounded kernel is also made into a sweet dish by frying and coating with sugar. It is also husked and eaten out of hand like a peanut. Beers and wines are made from the fermented grain. Chinese use the grain, like barley, in soups and broths.

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