Job's Tears, the fruit of a grass which has long been in use in Catholic countries for the beads of rosaries. This grass, coix lachryma, is a native of the East Indies, and was formerly treated as a greenhouse plant; it will flourish in the open air in the climate of New York; and as its seeds retain their vitality during the winter, numerous self-sown plants spring up where the plant stood the year before. It grows 2 or 3 ft. high, and before flowering has much the appearance of Indian corn; each root produces numerous stems and forms a large clump. The flowers are borne at the summit of the stems in a simple spike or branching panicle, and are monoecious; their structure is quite unlike that of most grasses; the pistillate flower is enclosed by an egg-shaped involucre, from an orifice in the apex of which appears a slender stem which bears several staminate flowers; the stigmas of the flowers are protruded beyond the opening in the involucre to be fertilized; when this has taken place the staminate flowers fall away, and the formerly herbaceous involucre becomes of a very hard and bony texture. When ripe the involucre is of the size of a large pea, somewhat pear-shaped, pearly white or of some shade of gray, with a hard enamelled surface.
These involucres, or seeds as they are popularly regarded, were formerly, on account of their stony appearance, supposed to be useful as remedies for gravel and stone in the bladder, and are found in the works of the old herbalists as lachryma Jobi; the Chinese still regard them as medicinal, but they are not recognized by modern pharmacopoeias. Their principal use, as beads, has been already mentioned; in some countries they are made up into necklaces, chaplets, and other personal ornaments. The plant is of the easiest culture. The seeds may be sown in place after the soil is warmed, or they may be sown under glass and be transplanted afterward. When loaded with its ripened tears, the plant is an interesting if not highly ornamental occupant of the border.