Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
August 15, 2008 - My father-in-law received seeds from a friend-- he didn't know what kind of plant it would grow. Now he questions what kind of plant it is-- it has a red stalk and 17 inch leaves, it appears to grow...
view the full question and answer

Identification of perennial with dark red/purple flowers
November 17, 2011 - Need to identify a lovely perennial here in Norfolk, Virginia. It reseeds itself, spreads, and lingers into the late fall. It has rather thick, dark green, alternate spatulate leaves at the base wit...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 16, 2011 - I have a photo of a shrubby plant with large spines. Is there a way for me to attach it? I'm having trouble identifying it. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Hummingbird plants and Indian Hawthorn
May 13, 2008 - I live in The Woodlands in a new section of homes. I planted some hummingbird plants in full sun and they did ok last year for 4 months, then lost all their leaves and died when the winter came. At ...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
June 30, 2005 - I have a plant that someone gave me and I don't have a clue what it is. I have a picture of it on my computer. If you can send me a email address where I can send the picture to you, that would be gre...
view the full question and answer

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