Job's Tears - Encyclopedia


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JOB'S TEARS, in botany, the popular name for Coix LachrymaJobi, a species of grass, of the tribe maydeae, which also includes the maize (see Grasses). The seeds, or properly fruits, are contained singly in a stony involucre or bract, which does not open until the enclosed seed germinates. The young involucre surrounds the female flower and the stalk supporting the spike of male flowers, and when ripe has the appearance of bluish-white porcelain. Being shaped somewhat like a large drop of fluid, the form has suggested the name. The fruits are esculent, but the involucres are the part chiefly used, for making necklaces and other ornaments. The plant is a native of India, but is now widely spread throughout the tropical zone. It grows in marshy places; and is cultivated in China, the fruit having a supposed value as a diuretic and anti-phthisic. It was cultivated by John Gerard, author of the famous Herball, at the end of the 16th century as a tender annual.

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