||Perennial grass in tropical or subtropical environments.
||Leaves are linear or lanceolate with an entire leaf margin and a pointed apex (1.5 - 4 cm wide, 20 - 50 cm long). This species is a monocotyledon, so it lacks petioles, but has leaf sheaths and parallel venation.
||The stem is round and herbaceous.
||Monoecious; the hollow, bead-like structure is known as an involucre. It houses 3 female flowers : one fertile flower and two sterile flowers. The fertile female flower produces 2 purple, feathery stigmas that emerge out of the hole at the apex. The male inflorescence occurs on a thin stalk that also emerges from the hole at the apex of the involucre. The male inflorescence resembles a head of wheat. It has green, herbaceous bracts that partially cover the male flowers.
||When the stigmas of the female flower catch pollen carried by the wind, fertilization occurs and a grain is formed as the fruit. The grain remains inside the involucre. The involucre is intially green, gradually becomes black and then becomes gray to white.
||Occurs in swamps, forest edges, lowlands, ditches and on stream banks. It is typically found in hot climates with moist soil.
||This species grows best in warm, tropical climates. Plant it in soil with good drainage. Involucres containing grain should be planted at a depth of 2.5 cm with 60 cm of spacing on all sides between plants. Immature plants should be well-watered. Fertilize by regularly adding manure to the soil. As the grain sets, reduce watering to maximize yield.
||The genus "Coix" is the Latin version of a Greek name for the Egyptian palm Hyphaene thebaica.
The species epithet "lacryma-jobi" means Job's tears which is a common name of this plant. The reference is to the teardrop shape of the dried fruits. Job was a man in the Bible who lived a righteous life, but suffered much hardship.
||Edible Plant Parts (Edible Seeds)
Food (Herb and Spice : The soft-shelled grains are sometimes husked and prepared like rice or ground to make a sweet, nutritious flour. This flour can be used to make bread or mixed with water to make a drink. In Japan, the grains are used to make tea. The grains is also made into beer in the Philippines. The Chinese use the grains to make soups. )
Medicinal ( The roots of this plant are thought to cure menstrual problems. The grains have antiseptic properties and can also be used to reduce fever or control muscle spasms. )
[Others]: The involucres (hard-shelled fruits) are typically used as ornamental beads for jewelry, rosaries or decoration for clothing. In Central America, they are used to make seed dolls. In Africa, a musical instrument known as the shaker gourd consists of a net of involucres loosely wrapped around a hollow gourd. When the net is slapped against the gourd, a rhythmic sound is produced. The plant is also used as fodder for livestock.