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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
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Monday - October 08, 2007

From: Irwin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Information about plant called Josephs tears, possibly Jobs tears (Coix lacryma-jobi)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I recently received a plant and was told it was a succulent called Joseph's Tears. According to the individual who gave it to me, during the month of September it develops a little growth at the tips of the leaves, a seed I guess, that when allowed to drop off into the dirt will grow a new plant. Like tears dropping off, hence the common name. I cannot locate any info about this plant. Can you help? It can be found growing in Texas.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants couldn't find a plant called Joseph's Tears, but has found a plant known as Job's Tears (Coix lacryma-jobi). It isn't a succulent, however, but a grass species introduced to the US from East Asia and Malaya. Its seeds, the tears, are hard and spherical and are sometimes used as rosary beads. The seeds of one variety is eaten. Here is some more information about Job's Tears from Purdue University and from Plants for a Future.

The only succulent I could find that had seeds resembling tears and "tears" as part of its common name is called String of Tears or String of Beads (Senecio herreianus). Its "tear" seeds, however, occur in a cluster, not at the end of the leaves.

If neither of these plants is your plant, you can send us a photo and we will be happy to try to identify it. For instructions on how to submit photographs, please visit the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants page and read about "Plant Identifcation" in the lower right corner.

 

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