Job’s Tears [Coix lacryma-jobi], Coixseed, Tear Grass, is a tall grain-bearing tropical plant of the family Poaceae [grass family] native to Southeast Asia but elsewhere cultivated in gardens as an annual. It has been naturalized in the southern United States and the New World tropics. In its native environment it is grown in higher areas where rice and corn do not grow well. Job’s Tears are also commonly sold as Chinese pearl barley in Asian supermarkets, although Coix lacryma-jobi is not closely related to barley [Hordeum vulgare].
Job’s tears are known by many different names across the world:
Sanskrit: Vyjanti beads ~ Chinese: The plants are called chuān gǔ [川谷) or yì yǐ (薏苡]. The grains are called yì rén [薏仁] or yì mǐ [薏米]. ~ Vietnamese: bo bo, hột bo bo [hột meaning “seed”] ~ Japanese: juzudama [ジュズダマ] or hatomugi [ハトムギ] ~ Korean: yulmu [율무] ~ Malay: bali ~ Thai: luk dueai [ลูกเดือย] ~ Indonesian: jali, hanjeli ~ Filipino: adlai.