|More popular in olden days, the one cultivated species of these curious grasses deserves rediscovery. Job's Tears (Coix lacryma-jobi) won the name for its hard pearly, purplish or black 'beads' -- actually swollen leaf sheaths -- that form on the 2-foot grassy blades. In the 19th century, American children enjoyed stringing them onto necklaces, and teething babies found them comforting to gnaw on. Asian cultures still value them for decorations, rosaries, and even food. Healers use the plant as a diuretic and treatment for rheumatism. Coix lacryma aurea-zebrina has yellow-striped leaves. Give a warm spot with plenty of sun, but partial shade for larger plants. Needs well-drained soil. Water generously during dry spells. Flowers best with long, hot summers. Soak seed 24 hours before planting. In cool temperate climates, start greenhouse seed flats in late winter, 2 months before warm weather, then plant out. In warmer zones, sow in ground in spring, 1 foot apart. Harvest bead stems just before they fully ripen and hang bunches upside down to dry in airy shade.
An annual grass that flowers in the fall, its flower stalks are gracefully arching. Beadlike fruits are white to gray and tinged blue to brown.
Attributes - Coix lacryma-jobi
Plant Type: Grass
Height: 3 ft. to 4 ft. 5 in.
Width: 4 ft. 5 in.
Sunlight: Full Sun, Partial Sun
Climate: Zones 9, 10, 11
Notes: Container Plants, Showy Flowers.