Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

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.

 
rate this answer
4 ratings

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.

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant Identification
June 05, 2012 - I have a plant that looks like a lamb ear leaf but with a carnation flower on top. What is it?
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification in Tennessee
September 02, 2008 - I live in upper East Tennessee and all my life I have seen a flowering bush we call a Bubbie (or Bubby). It grows to an average approximate height of 6 feet and blooms in the early summer. The blooms ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of mint impersonator in California
May 20, 2012 - Is there such a thing as a mint "impersonator"? There are random 'sprigs' of purple-stemmed, bright green leaf plants in my front yard. We just moved in to the house and I don't want to assume ...
view the full question and answer

Information about native aconitum
February 27, 2008 - There was a picture of a plant in our local newspaper this past week. In the photo ID they called this plant an aconite, a member of the buttercup family. My questions are: is there such a plant? is i...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Brick, New Jersey
September 07, 2013 - I live in Brick, New Jersey. I planted some wildflower seed from an assorted packet. There is a very tall, thick center stem with orange flowers. I'd like to send photo but don't know how.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.