Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Coix lacryma-jobi L., 1753

Species:C. lacryma-jobi
Common Names:Job's Tear, Jelai, Jelai Batu


The culms are single or tufted, erect and 100-200 cm tall. The leaf sheaths are rounded, somewhat inflated and hairless. The leaf blades narrowly lanceolate, 20-50 x 1.5-4 cm, with a prominent midrib and the margins covered with minute hairs. The inflorescence is a spike-like raceme, arising singly from the upper leaf axils, 6-10 cm long, each bearing 3 female spikelets at the base, 1 sessile and 2 stalked and all 3 enclosed by a hard bead-like oval bract. The male raceme of up to 24 spikelets arises from the sheath.

Read more about the Poales order.
Read more about the Poaceae family.


The origin is unknown but it is indigenous to southern and eastern Asia.


Khatib Bongsu, Pasir Ris Park, Pulau Ubin, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Locality Map

Human Uses

It is currently cultivated as a minor cereal crop throughout the tropics and subtropics, especially in India, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and the Mediterranean. These are the soft-shelled false fruit (cultivar ma-yuen) that can be easily husked and can be eaten in the same way as rice. The raw kernel is eaten as a snack, tasting sweet, The grain is also used to make a type of beer in the Philippines and popular among the Indian hill tribes. The plant is also grown as a fodder to feed cattle and horses. The hard-shelled false fruit are used to make necklaces, rosaries, etc.


Duistermaat, H., 2005. Field guide to the grasses of Singapore (Excluding the bamboos). Gardens’ Bulletin Singapore Supplement 57. 176 pp. 

Gilliland, H. B., 1971. A revised floras of Malaya. Vol. III Grasses of Malaya. Botanic Gardens Singapore. 319 pp.

Grubben, G. J. H. & S. Partohardjono, (editors), 1996. Plant resources of South-East Asia - No. 10: Cereals. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden. 199pp.

Henderson, M. R., 1954. Malayan wild flowers - Monocotyledons. Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. 357 pp.

Keng, H., S. C. Chin & H. T. W. Tan, 1990. The concise flora of Singapore Vol. II: Monocotyledons. Singapore University Press & National Parks Board. 215 pp.

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