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Edible uses


Seed - cooked. A pleasant mild flavour, it can be used in soups and broths[1].. It can be ground into a flour and used to make bread or used in any of the ways that rice is used[2][3][4][5][6]. The pounded flour is sometimes mixed with water like barley for barley water[1]. The pounded kernel is also made into a sweet dish by frying and coating with sugar[1]. It is also husked and eaten out of hand like a peanut[1]. The seed contains about 52% starch, 18% protein, 7% fat[7][8]. It is higher in protein and fat than rice but low in minerals[7]. This is a potentially very useful grain, it has a higher protein to carbohydrate ratio than any other cereal[4], though the hard seedcoat makes extraction of the flour rather difficult.

A tea can be made from the parched seeds[9][10][11][6], whilst beers and wines are made from the fermented grain[1].

A coffee is made from the roasted seed[6]. (This report refers to the ssp. ma-yuen)

Unknown part

Material uses

The seeds are used as decorative beads[2][10][5][12][13]. The stems are used to make matting[14].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The fruits are anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, hypoglycaemic, hypotensive, sedative and vermifuge[15][16]. 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[1].

The seed, with the husk removed, is antirheumatic, diuretic, pectoral, refrigerant and tonic[17][15][18]. A tea from the boiled seeds is drunk as part of a treatment to cure warts[19][8]. It is also used in the treatment of lung abscess, lobar pneumonia, appendicitis, rheumatoid arthritis, beriberi, diarrhoea, oedema and difficult urination[20][17]. The plant has been used in the treatment of cancer[15]. The roots have been used in the treatment of menstrual disorders[18]. A decoction of the root has been used as an anthelmintic[13].

The fruit is harvested when ripe in the autumn and the husks are removed before using fresh, roasted or fermented[16].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - pre-soak for 2 hours in warm water and sow February/March in a greenhouse[21]. 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[2][21]. Seed can also be sown in situ in May[2] 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[1]. Division of root offshoots[13]. This is probably best done in the spring as plants come into fresh growth[13].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Coix lacryma-jobi. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[22]. Best grown in an open sunny border[2][22]. 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[1].

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[1]. Before corn (Zea mays) became popular in Southern Asia, Job's tears was rather widely cultivated as a cereal in India[14][1]. It is a potentially very useful grain having a higher protein to carbohydrate ratio than any other cereal[4]. 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[4][6]. This form is widely used in macrobiotic diets and cuisine[6]. The ssp. stenocarpa is used for beads[4].

Whilst usually grown as an annual, the plant is perennial in essentially frost-free areas[1]. Plants have survived temperatures down to about -35°c[23]. (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].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Coix lacryma-jobi. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Coix lacryma-jobi.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Coix lacryma-jobi
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Duke. J. Handbook of Energy Crops - (1983-00-00)
    2. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    4. ? Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    5. ? Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide. Oxford University Press ISBN 0192176218 (1969-00-00)
    6. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    7. ? Chakravarty. H. L. The Plant Wealth of Iraq. ()
    8. ? Kariyone. T. Atlas of Medicinal Plants. ()
    9. ? 9.09.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    10. ? Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.1 Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    13. ? Manandhar. N. P. Plants and People of Nepal Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-527-6 (2002-00-00)
    14. ? Gupta. B. L. Forest Flora of Chakrata, Dehra Dun and Saharanpur. Forest Research Institute Press (1945-00-00)
    15. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    16. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    17. ? Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
    18. ? Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    19. ? 19.019.1 Brooklyn Botanic Garden Oriental Herbs and Vegetables, Vol 39 No. 2. Brooklyn Botanic Garden (1986-00-00)
    20. ? 20.020.1 ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X ()
    21. ? 21.021.1 Bird. R. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 4. Thompson and Morgan. (1990-00-00)
    22. ? 22.022.1 Grounds. R. Ornamental Grasses. Christopher Helm ISBN 0-7470-1219-9 (1989-00-00)
    23. ? Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987. ()
    24. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)

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    Facts about "Coix lacryma-jobi"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyGramineae +
    Belongs to genusCoix +
    Has binomial nameCoix lacryma-jobi +
    Has common nameJob's Tears +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partUnknown part + and Seed +
    Has edible useCoffee +, Unknown use + and Tea +
    Has fertility typeWind +
    Has flowers of typeMonoecious +
    Has hardiness zone9 +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useBeads + and Weaving +
    Has mature height1 +
    Has mature width0.15 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAnodyne +, Anthelmintic +, Antiinflammatory +, Antipyretic +, Antirheumatic +, Antispasmodic +, Cancer +, Diuretic +, Hypoglycaemic +, Pectoral +, Refrigerant +, Sedative +, Tonic + and Warts +
    Has search namecoix lacryma-jobi + and job's tears +
    Has shade toleranceNo shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceVery acid +, Acid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameCoix lacryma-jobi +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedYes +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
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