Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Coix lacryma-jobi
(Job's-tears)

Areces-Berazain F and Rojas-Sandoval J, 2017. Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears). Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CABI. DOI:10.1079/ISC.15648.20203483473

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Datasheet

Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 29 April 2020
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Coix lacryma-jobi
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Job's-tears
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Coix lacryma-jobi is a grass indigenous to Southern and Eastern Asia that has been introduced in tropical and warm temperate regions as a cereal, fodder and forage crop, and for its attractive grains which are used as beads for making ros...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
TitleFruit
CaptionCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
FruitCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
TitleFruit
CaptionCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
FruitCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
TitleFruit
CaptionCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
FruitCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
TitleFruit
CaptionCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
FruitCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); fruits. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit, with leaves and fruits. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2002.
TitleHabit
CaptionCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit, with leaves and fruits. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2002.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit, with leaves and fruits. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2002.
HabitCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit, with leaves and fruits. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2002.©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit, with leaves and fruits. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2002.
TitleHabit
CaptionCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit, with leaves and fruits. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2002.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit, with leaves and fruits. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2002.
HabitCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit, with leaves and fruits. Wahinepee, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2002.©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
TitleHabit
CaptionCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
HabitCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
TitleHabit
CaptionCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
HabitCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
TitleHabit
CaptionCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.
HabitCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); habit. Keanae Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2012.©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); flowers and unripe fruits. Hana Hwy, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.
TitleFlowers and fruit
CaptionCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); flowers and unripe fruits. Hana Hwy, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); flowers and unripe fruits. Hana Hwy, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.
Flowers and fruitCoix lacryma-jobi (Job's-tears); flowers and unripe fruits. Hana Hwy, Maui, Hawaii, USA. January 2005.©Forest & Kim Starr/via flickr - CC BY 4.0
Coix lacryma-jobi: 1, habit, flowering stem; 2, male inflorescence; 3, male spikelet; 4, female inflorescence with involucre partly removed.

Reproduced from the series 'Plant Resources of South-East Asia', Vols 1-20 (1989-2000), by kind permission of the PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia.
TitleMorphology
CaptionCoix lacryma-jobi: 1, habit, flowering stem; 2, male inflorescence; 3, male spikelet; 4, female inflorescence with involucre partly removed. Reproduced from the series 'Plant Resources of South-East Asia', Vols 1-20 (1989-2000), by kind permission of the PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia.
Copyright©PROSEA Foundation
Coix lacryma-jobi: 1, habit, flowering stem; 2, male inflorescence; 3, male spikelet; 4, female inflorescence with involucre partly removed.

Reproduced from the series 'Plant Resources of South-East Asia', Vols 1-20 (1989-2000), by kind permission of the PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia.
MorphologyCoix lacryma-jobi: 1, habit, flowering stem; 2, male inflorescence; 3, male spikelet; 4, female inflorescence with involucre partly removed. Reproduced from the series 'Plant Resources of South-East Asia', Vols 1-20 (1989-2000), by kind permission of the PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia.©PROSEA Foundation

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Coix lacryma-jobi

Preferred Common Name

  • Job's-tears

Other Scientific Names

  • Coix agrestis Lour.
  • Coix agrestis var. maxima (Makino) Nakai
  • Coix arundinacea Lam.
  • Coix exaltata Jacq. ex Spreng.
  • Coix lacryma L., nom. illeg.
  • Coix lacryma-jobi var. maxima Makino
  • Coix lacryma-jobi var. ma-yuen (Rom.Caill.) Stapf
  • Coix lacryma-jobi var. novoguineensis Pilg.
  • Coix lacryma-jobi var. stenocarpa Oliv.
  • Coix ouwehandii Koord.
  • Coix ovata Stokes, nom. illeg.
  • Coix palustris Koord.
  • Coix pendula Salisb., nom. illeg.
  • Coix pumila Roxb.
  • Coix stigmatosa K. Koch & C.D. Bouché
  • Lithagrostis lacryma-jobi (L.) Gaertn.
  • Sphaerium lacryma (L.) Kuntze, nom. illeg.

International Common Names

  • English: adlay; adlay millet
  • Spanish: lágrimas de Job; Lagrimas de San Pedro; lágrimas de San Pedro; lágrimas de señora
  • French: coix larme de Job; grains de Job; larme de Job; Larmes de Job
  • Arabic: damu ayub
  • Chinese: yi mi; yiyi
  • Portuguese: erva dos rosários; lágrima-de-nossa-senhora

Local Common Names

  • Bangladesh: siba
  • Benin: larmes du Joab
  • Bhutan: bo-hoem; boma; boom; buma kaam; bumar karchu; cheem ho chum; chungma; chungme; crotokpai; deokush; garay-malo; lhamboumba; nangchung phrengma; pinmar; pompaling; sekam; tektekma
  • Bolivia: lágrima de María
  • Brazil: biuri; capia; capim-de-contas; capim-missanga; capim-rosario; conta-de-lágrima; lagrima-de-Jo; tsiku
  • Cambodia: skuöy
  • China: yi mi; yi yi; zhai guo yi yi
  • Congo Democratic Republic: mashangu
  • Cook Islands: poepoe
  • Costa Rica: adlay; cuentas de San Pedro; trigo adlay
  • Côte d'Ivoire: manquassèm
  • Cuba: camándula; cuentas de doña Juana; lágrimas de Moisés; millo chino; santa Juana; santa maría
  • Dominican Republic: cuenta de la virgen; larmilles des Indes; santa lucía; santa maría
  • El Salvador: zacate de perla
  • Fiji: sila
  • France: herbe à chapelets; larmille
  • French Polynesia: poepoe
  • Germany: hiobs- traenengras
  • Ghana: agu; ahwinie ; akrokosebia; job n’ani nsuwa; owu-amma-mankã m’asem = death makes me mute
  • Guinea: a-mber-kesy; bonco; fondo; forono; wa-kometa
  • Haiti: graines chapelet; graines maldioc; graines réglisse; larmilles des Indes
  • Hungary: jób könnye; könnyfű
  • India: adavi guruginja; ashru bija; chaning; gavedhu; gavedhukah; gurgur; gurlu; jargadi; kasai; kasai; kasi; kattu kundumani; kattugotampu; manjutti; netpavalum; ran jamdhlo; ran-maka; ranmakkai; samkru; sanklee; sankru; sohriu
  • Indonesia: anjalai; hajeli; hanjere; hankeli; jali; jali betul; jali watu; japen; jelai; jelai batu; jelai pulut; jelen; kenjeali; menjelai; perara; rumput jelai; senjeali
  • Italy: lacrima di Giobbe
  • Japan: hato-mugi; juzudama; juzudama; juzu-dama; zyudu-dama
  • Korea, DPR: gusuljulmu; julmu; julmu
  • Korea, Republic of: gusuljulmu; gusuljulmu; julmu
  • Laos: düay
  • Liberia:
  • Malaysia: batak; biji bali; buah jail; dalai; jali batu; jali-jali; jelai; jelai batu; jelai pulut; jilai; lanchang; melai tikus; menjelai; senjelai
  • Mayotte: loulou masera; tasoumbihin loulou; tassoubi massera
  • Mexico: acayacotl; acayacoyoth; acayocoyotl; arrocillo; batagá; collar de maiz; collarcillo; ishlacashtajad; ishlacashtajat; lágrima; lagrimilla; pasto; san pedro; soguilla; sonajilla; suuk-paen; tzacat tapisno; zacate; zacate de cuentas
  • Micronesia: fetin umuno; rosario
  • Myanmar: ka-leik; kalein; kalein-thi; kyeik
  • Nepal: bhirkaunlo; genduri; gwenchhi; jabe; jargedi; taktriya
  • Netherlands: jobstranen
  • New Zealand: tangatanga
  • Nigeria: aká-ịla = corn bead; ngkwà eto; nkwà ikọ̀t
  • Niue: tagataga; tangatanga
  • Pakistan: sanklu
  • Palau: demairush; demairuuch; pa nga ruiz; tauiir; taviir
  • Papua New Guinea: karikari
  • Peru: perla vegetal
  • Philippines: abúkai; adlái; agágai; aglái; alimúdias; atákai; Balantákan; barubaióko; bilen; bintíkai; damáu; katigbí; kibaoung; koldásan; Kudlásan; lamúdias; liás; paiás; paliás; pintáka; tidbí; Tigbí; tigbíkai
  • Puerto Rico: camándulas lágrimas de Jacobo
  • Réunion: herbe à chapelets; job
  • Samoa: sagasaga; sagisagi; sanasana
  • Sao Tome and Principe: capim-de-nossa-senhora
  • Senegal: balifõ; boror; foror; ma-karamba-késé; ñammaket; porola
  • Seychelles: herbe collier; herbe Job
  • Sierra Leone: am-polo; boboni-volo; bohori; bongkori; e-pereka; folo; foro; foronde-tasebia; forondo; forondo-mese; gbegbe-na; gbegbe-tasabia-na; gboe; gbolo; gbolopko; gboye; jina-forondo; kali bagi; kpetehu-volo; kpoklo-le; kpokolo-le; ma-polo; matomperega; pu-boe; sankala; sisig; yiri-foronde
  • Sri Lanka: kirindi
  • Thailand: Duai; maduai
  • Tonga: hana; hana tuikahoa
  • USA/Hawaii: ‘ohe‘ohe; kūkaekōlea; kūkaekōlea; pū'ohe'ohe; pūpū kōlea
  • Vanuatu: butsu wasil; Mwahile hile; wasil
  • Vietnam: bo bo; bo bo nếp; cườm gạo; y dĩ nhọn

EPPO code

  • COXLJ (Coix lacryma-jobi)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Coix lacryma-jobi is a grass indigenous to Southern and Eastern Asia that has been introduced in tropical and warm temperate regions as a cereal, fodder and forage crop, and for its attractive grains which are used as beads for making rosaries, necklaces, and other objects. It has escaped cultivation and become naturalized in more than 90 countries, often occurring as a weed in humid and disturbed sites, along waterways and forest edges, wetlands and swamps. C. lacryma-jobi is a robust grass that grows forming dense and tall clumps that block the flow of waterways and outcompete native vegetation. It is listed as invasive in Singapore, Australia, New Caledonia, the Cook Islands, the Galapagos, Greece Hawaii, French Polynesia, Mexico, Brazil, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Jamaica and on many islands in the Pacific and Indian Ocean. It is regarded as potentially invasive in the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Coix
  •                                 Species: Coix lacryma-jobi

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Coix is the sole genus of the subtribe Coicinae in the tribe Andropogonae, comprising 4 closely related species, all native to South-East Asia and Northern Australia with a center of diversity in northeast India (Arora, 1977; Clayton and Renvoize, 1992; Soreng et al., 2015). It is considered one of the most derived genera within the Andropogonae due to its highly specialized, unusual inflorescences (Clayton and Renvoize, 1992).

The taxonomy of this genus has been ill defined and poorly understood mainly due to its extensive cultivation and the vast phenotypic variation occurring within species (Koul, 1974). As Coix lacryma-jobi has been cultivated across Asia for centuries, many cultivars have been developed, as well as varieties selected by farmers for easy husking (Arora, 1977; van den Bergh and Iamsupasit, 1996). About 30 taxa have been described within the genus (several of them varieties or forms of C. lacryma-jobi), but only a small number deserve specific rank. The Plant List (2013) lists the following four accepted names: C. aquatica Roxb., C. gasteenii B.K.Simon, C. lacryma-jobi, and C. puellarum Balansa.

Coix lacryma-jobi was described from India by Linnaeus in 1753. ‘Coix’ derives from ‘koix’, an ancient Greek name used by Theophrastus for a palm of the genus Hyphaene (Quattrocchi, 2012), because of the resemblance of the involucres (or false fruits) of Coix to the fruit of this palm (Wagner et al., 1990). ‘Lacryma’ means tear-drop, and ‘jobi’ alludes to Job, the biblical figure who endured much suffering. Apparently, the ovoid grayish or bluish false fruits of this species resemble or symbolize the tears shed by Job (Clifford and Bostock, 2007).

Three varieties of C. lacryma-jobi are commonly recognized: C. lacryma-jobi var. lacryma-jobi, C. lacryma-jobi var. stenocarpa Oliv. and C. lacryma-jobi var. ma-yuen (Rom. Caill.) Stapf. The variety lacryma-jobi is the most common and most widely naturalized. The variety ma-yuen is often cultivated as a food grain (Jain and Banerjee, 1974; Shouliang and Phillips, 2006).

Description

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The following description is adapted from Wagner et al. (1990) and Thieret (2003):

Robust annual or perennial grass; culms up to 3 m, erect, with solid internodes. Leaves mostly cauline, distichous; sheaths loose, terete, glabrous; ligule membranous, 1.5-2 mm long, with margins erose and minutely fringed; blades linear-lanceolate, 10-75 × 2-6 cm, glabrous. Inflorescences axillary, each consisting of two unisexual racemes, one pistillate, and the other staminate. Pistillate raceme completely enclosed within a globose-ovoid, bony or soft, modified leaf sheath termed involucre or utricule, this usually 8-12 mm long, white, grayish, bluish or black, lustrous; spikelets in the pistillate raceme 3, one sessile and fertile, the upper two rudimentary; lower glumes of the functional pistillate spikelet 6-10 mm long, hyaline below, 5-7 veined, with a 1-3 mm coriaceous beak; florets 2, one sterile, the upper fertile and with the two stigmas protruding from the involucre; lodicules absent. Staminate raceme flexible, borne on a long peduncle that protrudes from the mouth of the involucre, 2-5 cm long, with 3-25 pairs of imbricate spikelets; spikelets 5-9 mm long, dorsally compressed, each with 2 florets; lower glume elliptic to obovate, somewhat asymmetric, with 15 or more veins, chartaceous, margins folded inward, the apex obtuse; upper glume lanceolate to narrowly elliptic, with a keel often winged, the apex acute; lemna 5-8 mm, hyaline, elliptic to ovate, 3-veined; palea similar to lemna but 2-veined; stamens 3, anthers 3-6 mm; lodicules 2. Caryopsis ellipsoid to subglobose, ventrally furrowed, 2.5-5 mm long, enclosed within the involucre.

Based on the shape and hardness of the involucres, three varieties of C. lacryma-jobi are commonly recognized: C. lacryma-jobi var. lacryma-jobi, C. lacryma-jobi var. stenocarpa Oliv., and C. lacryma-jobi var. ma-yuen (Rom. Caill.) Stapf. The variety lacryma-jobi has globose to ovoid, bony and glossy involucres. The variety stenocarpa has elongate, bottle-shaped, hard involucres, while the variety ma-yuen has elliptical, striate, soft involucres (Jain and Banerjee, 1974; Shouliang and Phillips, 2006).

Plant Type

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Annual
Grass / sedge
Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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Coix lacryma-jobi is generally regarded as having originated in the Eastern Himalayan region and Northern Indochina (comprising parts of Nepal, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam). It has a long history of cultivation in this and other regions of Southern and Eastern Asia mainly as a cereal crop, but also as a decorative grass (Venkateswarlu and Chaganti, 1973; Arora, 1977). At present, it is widely naturalized across Asia, Africa, Europe, America, the West Indies, Australia and on many islands in the Pacific and Indian Ocean.

The variety lacryma-jobi is the most widespread and the one that occurs in most countries of America, Africa and Oceania. The variety stenocarpa is distributed in Northeast India, Myanmar, Southern China, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. The variety ma-yuen occurs in India, Bhutan, Myanmar, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, but has been also introduced in Honduras and Ecuador (Zuloaga et al., 2003; Shouliang and Phillips, 2006).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 17 Feb 2021
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

AlgeriaPresentIntroducedCultivated
AngolaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUige
BeninPresentIntroducedAtakora, Donga, Collines, Plateau
BurundiPresentIntroduced
Cabo VerdePresentIntroducedSantiago
CameroonPresentIntroduced
Central African RepublicPresentIntroduced
ComorosPresentIntroduced
Congo, Democratic Republic of thePresentIntroduced
Congo, Republic of thePresentIntroduced
Côte d'IvoirePresentIntroduced
EgyptPresentIntroduced
Equatorial GuineaPresentIntroduced
EthiopiaPresentIntroduced
GabonPresentIntroduced
GambiaPresentIntroduced
GhanaPresentIntroduced
GuineaPresentIntroduced
Guinea-BissauPresentIntroducedNaturalized
KenyaPresentIntroduced
LiberiaPresentIntroduced
MadagascarPresent, WidespreadIntroducedNaturalizedAntsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Toamasina, Toliara,
MaliPresentIntroduced
MauritiusPresentIntroducedInvasivePotentially invasive
-RodriguesPresentIntroducedInvasivePotentially invasive
MayottePresentIntroducedInvasive
NigeriaPresentIntroduced
RéunionPresentIntroduced
Saint HelenaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
São Tomé and PríncipePresentIntroduced
SenegalPresentIntroduced
SeychellesPresentIntroduced
Sierra LeonePresentIntroduced
South AfricaPresentIntroducedInvasive
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced
TogoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated
UgandaPresentIntroduced
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedCultivated

Asia

BangladeshPresentNative
BhutanPresentNative
IndonesiaPresentIntroduced
-BorneoPresentIntroducedCultivated
-Irian JayaPresentIntroducedCultivated
-JavaPresentIntroducedCultivated
-Lesser Sunda IslandsPresentIntroducedBali
-SulawesiPresentIntroducedCultivated
-SumatraPresentIntroducedCultivated
CambodiaPresentNative
ChinaPresent, WidespreadNative
-AnhuiPresentNative
-FujianPresentNative
-GuangdongPresentNative
-GuangxiPresentNative
-GuizhouPresentNative
-HainanPresentNative
-HebeiPresentNative
-HeilongjiangPresentNative
-HenanPresentNative
-HubeiPresentNative
-HunanPresentNative
-Inner MongoliaPresentNative
-JiangsuPresentNative
-JiangxiPresentNative
-LiaoningPresentNative
-NingxiaPresentNative
-ShaanxiPresentNative
-ShandongPresentNative
-ShanxiPresentNative
-SichuanPresentNative
-XinjiangPresentNative
-YunnanPresentNative
-ZhejiangPresentNative
IndiaPresent, WidespreadNative
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentIntroducedLittle Andaman, very common
-Andhra PradeshPresent
-Arunachal PradeshPresentNative
-AssamPresent
-GujaratPresent
-KarnatakaPresent
-KeralaPresent
-Madhya PradeshPresent
-ManipurPresentNative
-MeghalayaPresentNative
-MizoramPresentNative
-NagalandPresentNative
-OdishaPresent
-RajasthanPresent
-Tamil NaduPresent
-Uttar PradeshPresent
-West BengalPresent
IranPresentIntroduced
IraqPresentIntroduced
JapanPresent, WidespreadIntroducedNaturalizedFrequently cultivated
LaosPresentNativeLouangphrabang
MalaysiaPresentIntroduced
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
-SabahPresentIntroduced
-SarawakPresentIntroduced
MyanmarPresentNativeKachin, Yangon
NepalPresentNative
North KoreaPresentIntroducedCultivated
PakistanPresentIntroducedSind, Punjab, N.W.F.P. and Kashmir. Uncommon
PalestinePresentIntroduced
PhilippinesPresentReported as native and introduced
Saudi ArabiaPresentIntroduced
SingaporePresentIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated
South KoreaPresentIntroducedCultivated
Sri LankaPresentReported as native and introduced
TaiwanPresentNative
ThailandPresentNativeCultivated
TurkeyPresentIntroducedNot established
VietnamPresentNative

Europe

BelgiumPresentIntroducedNot established
FrancePresentIntroducedNot established
GreecePresentIntroducedEstablished
-CretePresentIntroducedNaturalized
HungaryPresentIntroducedNot established
ItalyAbsent, Formerly presentNo recent records
-SicilyAbsent, Formerly presentExtinct
MaltaPresentIntroducedEstablished
Portugal
-AzoresPresentIntroducedNot established
-MadeiraAbsent, Unconfirmed presence record(s)
SpainPresentIntroducedEstablished
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroducedTenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote

North America

Antigua and BarbudaPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
BarbadosPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
BelizePresentIntroduced
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedTortola
CanadaPresentIntroduced
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedHerbarium specimen from cultivation in Vancouver
-OntarioPresentIntroducedHerbarium specimen from Norfolk, probably not persistent
-QuebecPresentIntroducedHerbarium specimen from Deux-Montagnes
Costa RicaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
CubaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
DominicaPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced
El SalvadorPresentIntroduced
GrenadaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedNaturalized
GuadeloupePresent, WidespreadIntroduced
GuatemalaPresentIntroduced
HaitiPresentIntroduced
HondurasPresentIntroducedNaturalized
JamaicaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
MartiniquePresent, WidespreadIntroduced
MexicoPresentIntroducedInvasive
MontserratPresentIntroduced
NicaraguaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
PanamaPresent, WidespreadIntroduced1876
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedInvasive
Saint Kitts and NevisPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
Saint LuciaPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
Saint MartinPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroduced
U.S. Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced1876InvasiveSt. Croix
United StatesPresentIntroduced
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced1870InvasiveKaua?i, O?ahu, Moloka?i, Maui, Hawai?i
-IowaPresentIntroduced
-LouisianaPresentIntroduced
-New JerseyPresentIntroduced
-New MexicoPresentIntroduced
-New YorkPresentIntroduced
-OhioPresentIntroduced
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroduced
-TennesseePresentIntroduced
-TexasPresentIntroduced

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroducedManua Islands (Tau) and Tutuila
AustraliaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedInvasive
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedInvasive
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasiveSouthern group (Atiu, Rarotonga, Mangaia), mild invasive
Federated States of MicronesiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-ChuukPresentIntroduced
-KosraePresentIntroducedInvasive
-PohnpeiPresentIntroducedInvasive
-YapPresentIntroduced
FijiPresentIntroducedInvasive
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
GuamPresentIntroduced
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedInvasive
New ZealandPresentIntroduced
NiuePresentIntroducedInvasiveCultivated
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedSaipan, Tinian, Rota
PalauPresentIntroducedBabeldaob, Koror, Ngerkebesang, Peleliu
Papua New GuineaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedNaturalized
PitcairnPresentIntroducedInvasive
SamoaPresentIntroducedInvasive
Timor-LestePresentIntroduced
TongaPresentIntroducedTongatapu, 'Eua, Vava'u
VanuatuPresentIntroducedPentecost

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedCordoba, Misiones
BoliviaPresentIntroducedAdventive and cultivated
BrazilPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-AcrePresentIntroducedNaturalized
-BahiaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-CearaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-Distrito FederalPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-GoiasPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-Mato GrossoPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-ParaibaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-ParanaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-PernambucoPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-PiauiPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroducedNaturalized
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedInvasive
ChilePresentIntroduced
-Easter IslandPresentIntroducedEphemerophyte
ColombiaPresentIntroduced1761Naturalized
EcuadorPresent, WidespreadIntroducedCultivated
-Galapagos IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasiveSan Crist?bal, Santa Cruz
French GuianaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated
GuyanaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated
ParaguayPresentIntroducedAmambay
PeruPresent, WidespreadIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated
SurinamePresentIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated
UruguayPresentIntroduced
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedCultivated

History of Introduction and Spread

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Coix lacryma-jobi may have been one of the earliest Asian plants brought into cultivation, perhaps even before rice (Jain and Banerjee, 1974). Starch granules of this species have been recovered from archaeological sites in China dating to the sixth millennium BC (Liu et al., 2014). The involucres have been found in sites of the Ahar culture (ca. 2500 BC) in India (Mishra, 2008), and in many other places throughout Asia, including archeological sites in East Timor as old as 14,800 BP (Vasco Oliveira, 2006), indicating that this plant was transported and spread by people since very early times.

The earliest reference of C. lacryma-jobi in Europe was made by Pliny in his ‘Natural History’ of AD 77 (Venkateswarlu and Chaganti, 1973). In Europe it was grown mainly as a garden curiosity for its peculiar bead-like involucres rather than for food (Miller, 1754). It was listed by Lamarck (1792) as cultivated in France, and by Sims (1824) and Sweet (1827) as cultivated as a garden ornamental in the UK since 1596. Sims (1824) reported this species growing spontaneously in Greece, and in Syria, although no other report of its occurrence in this country could be found.

From Europe, C. lacryma-jobi spread to other parts the West (Koul, 1974). It was reported as naturalized on St. Helena by 1875, where it was described as “wild and common in the ravines of the lowlands” (Mellis, 1875). It was likely brought there by the Portuguese, who introduced many plants to the island during the 16th century.

The earliest mention of C. lacryma-jobi in the New World is probably that of Hernández for Mexico in ‘Historia de las plantas de Nueva España’ (1571-1576), where he describes it as a medicinal plant. However, although the description seems to correspond well with this species (“llaman aqui litospermo arundináceo porque tiene hojas de caña y fruto blanco al principio y después negro, lustroso y parecido a cuentas”), the two accompanying illustrations clearly belong to two different monocot species (Canna sp. and Maranta sp.), so this report should be treated with caution (Hernández, 1943).

C. lacryma-jobi was recorded in Colombia by José C. Mutis in 1761 (Pinto-Escobar, 1985), and in French Guiana in 1775 (Aublet, 1775). It was reported for Cuba in 1850, “as cultivated in gardens and fields” (De la Sagra, 1850), and was already naturalized in the French Antilles by 1871 (Husnot and Coutance, 1871).

Coix lacryma-jobi was probably introduced into Africa from India (Stapf, 1917). It was reported only in Algeria and the Canary Islands by Durand and Schinz (1895), which seems to indicate that its spread in this continent occurred relatively recently. By 1917 it was reported for Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Angola, Kenya and Tanzania (Stapf, 1917). Now this species is naturalized in most African countries, but it is occasionally cultivated. Its main use is for making necklaces and articles of adornment that are often worn at religious occasions (Jansen, 2006).

The introduction of C. lacryma-jobi to Australia also appears to be relatively recent. The species is not mentioned by Bentham (1878), and the oldest herbarium specimens appear to be from 1915 (Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016). At present, this species can be found naturalized along waterways in major urban centres such as Sydney, Brisbane and Perth (Weed Watch, 2010).

In Hawaii, C. lacryma-jobi was first noted around 1870, but the earliest herbarium specimen was collected in 1903 (Wagner et al., 1990).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Colombia ca. 1760 No No Pinto-Escobar (1985)
Puerto Rico 1876 No No Rojas-Sandoval and Acevedo-Rodríguez (2015)
Hawaii ca. 1870 No No Wagner et al. (1990)

Risk of Introduction

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Coix lacryma-jobi is already widely distributed in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, and likely present in all countries where it is able to grow.

Habitat

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Coix lacryma-jobi can be found growing in wet environments. It typically occurs along rivers and stream banks, in marshy valleys, wetlands, wet grasslands and pastures, edges of lakes and reservoirs; also in clearings and disturbed sites of forests, flooded cultivated fields, moist waste places, channels and roadsides ditches (van den Bergh and Iamsupasit, 1996; Más and Garcia-Molinari, 2006; Flora of China, 2017; FAO, 2017). It occurs from sea-level up to 2000 m (Jansen, 2006).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Principal habitat Natural
FreshwaterIrrigation channels Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
FreshwaterIrrigation channels Present, no further details Natural
FreshwaterLakes Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
FreshwaterLakes Present, no further details Natural
FreshwaterReservoirs Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
FreshwaterReservoirs Present, no further details Natural
FreshwaterRivers / streams Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
FreshwaterRivers / streams Principal habitat Natural
FreshwaterPonds Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
FreshwaterPonds Present, no further details Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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Coix lacryma-jobi is reported as a weed in rice fields in Iran, Pakistan, India, Thailand and Philippines (Moody, 1989; Ahmadpour et al., 2013) and in sugarcane fields in Costa Rica (Rojas et al., 2003).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContextReferences
Oryza sativa (rice)PoaceaeMain
    Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)PoaceaeOther

      Biology and Ecology

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      Genetics

      The chromosome number of C. lacryma-jobi is 2n=20 (Christopher, 1978; Arago et al., 1997). Since the base number of the genus Coix is x=5, it has been suggested that this species is a tetraploid resulting from the crossing of two diploid (2n=10) ancestors (Arago et al., 1997).

      Meioisis in this species has been reported as normal in accessions from India and Philippines (Venkateswarlu and Chaganti, 1973; Arago et al., 1997). Pollen fertility was found to be high (about 83%), likely due to the normal behavior of chromosomes during meioisis (Arago et al., 1997).

      Autotetraploid plants (4n=40) can be obtained with colchicine treatment but, unlike diploids, these tetraploids exhibit a high frequency of meiotic irregularities (e.g. quadrivalents formation), and low pollen fertility and seed set. An experiment on inbreeding and selection for vigor and fertility in the tetraploids during four years and three generations did not produce significant results. Although there was a decrease in quadrivalent frequency by the third generation, this was not significant, suggesting that the response of these tetraploids to selection is very slow (Venkateswarlu and Chaganti, 1973; Venkateswarlu and Rao, 1976).

      The largest germplasm collections of C. lacryma-jobi are in the Institute of Crop Germplasm Resources (ICGR, CAAS) in Beijing and in the Institute of Plant Breeding of the University of Philippines at Los Baños (Jansen, 2006). Breeding programs in China are conducted in several institutes of Guizhou and Yunnan Provinces (Diao, 2017).

      A genome assembly is available (Liu et al., 2020).

      Reproductive Biology

      Like most grasses, the flowers of C. lacryma-jobi are pollinated by the wind. Both self and cross pollination occur, with the latter being predominant (Schaaffhausen, 1952; Jansen, 2006).

      Coix lacryma-jobi is disseminated mainly by ‘seeds’ that are actually the bead-like involucres containing the caryopsis. It can also propagate by cuttings (which is the preferred method for fodder production) and by rhizome fragmentation (Schaaffhausen, 1952). Seed propagation provides deeper rooting (Jansen, 2006).

      When cultivated, the seeds are planted at the beginning of the rainy season. They are usually sown 2.5-5 cm deep (Schaaffhausen, 1952; Duke, 1983; Jansen, 2006), and germinate in about 1-2 weeks depending on the moisture content of the soil (Jansen, 2006). Schaaffhausen (1952) reports poor results when seeds are sown 15 cm deep.

      Physiology and Phenology

      Coix lacryma-jobi attains maturity and starts flowering at about 4 months after sowing, mainly during September-October (Arora, 1977). The grains are ripe and ready for harvesting in 4-7 months, depending on the cultivar (Jansen, 2006). When most of grains are ripe, the plants start to dry (Arora, 1977; Jansen, 2006). The whole grain can maintain its quality for long periods of time, but hulled grains deteriorate quickly if not stored in a dry place (Schaaffhausen, 1952).

      Photoperiod experiments have shown that short periods of light (i.e. short days) reduce the vegetative growth and induce early flowering, but do not seem to influence the seed yield (Yao et al., 2013).

      This species exhibits the C4 photosynthetic pathway (Jansen, 2006).

      In China the flowering and fruiting season occurs from June to December (Flora of China, 2017).  In Europe, it has been recorded flowering from July to October and fruiting from September to November (PFAF, 2017). In Australia, flowering usually commences in December, with fruit being produced until June (Technigro, 2010).

      Longevity

      Coix lacryma-jobi grows as an annual in subtropical and temperate regions, but behaves as a perennial in warmer climates where frost is absent or mild (Duke, 1983). When cultivated, the total crop duration is 4-6(-8) months (Jansen, 2006).

      Population Size and Structure

      Coix lacryma-jobi exhibits great variation in size, shape, color and hardness of the involucre. The greatest diversity of wild forms has been reported for Northeastern India and Myanmar, a region regarded as a possible center of origin of this crop (Arora, 1977). The soft-hulled forms suitable for food (var. ma-yuen) were presumably selected through cultivation over thousands of years (Jansen, 2006). Population genetic analysis found wild and cultivated accessions could be unambiguously separated, and a strong bottleneck during domestication led to a loss of half the genetic diversity present in the wild population (Liu et al., 2020)

      An assessment of the genetic diversity using microsatellites revealed low genetic diversity within populations of this species from China and Korea. The accessions from China, however, exhibited greater within population polymorphism and showed to be genetically distinct from Korean accessions, suggesting that they originated from different gene pools (Ma et al., 2010). A different study using ISSR markers in wild and cultivated accessions from China also revealed low genetic diversity at the accession level and strong differentiation among all accessions (Xi et al., 2016).

      Environmental Requirements

      Coix lacryma-jobi requires abundant rainfall, usually exceeding 1500 mm per year (Skerman and Riveros, 1990), although it can tolerate 610 mm (Duke, 1983). It is found naturally in flooded or moist locations and is intolerant of drought. It grows best in open sunny places, on reasonably fertile soils with a pH in the range of 4.5 to 8.4 (Duke, 1983; Jansen, 2006).

      In Asia, the cultivation of C. lacryma-jobi strongly depends on the monsoon rains (Arora, 1977), which are essential for the growth of seedlings and the formation of the seed. It has been reported that in the absence of enough moisture, the plants produce many hollow grains (Schaaffhausen, 1952).

      Climate

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      ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
      Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
      Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
      As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
      Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
      Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
      Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
      Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

      Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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      Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
      45 40

      Air Temperature

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      Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
      Mean annual temperature (ºC) 9 28

      Rainfall

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      ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
      Mean annual rainfall6104290mm; lower/upper limits

      Soil Tolerances

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      Soil drainage

      • free
      • impeded
      • seasonally waterlogged

      Soil reaction

      • acid
      • alkaline
      • neutral

      Soil texture

      • heavy
      • light
      • medium

      Natural enemies

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      Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
      Ceratovacuna lanigera Herbivore Leaves not specific
      Cladosporium herbarum Pathogen Plants not specific
      Colletotrichum gloeosporioides Pathogen not specific
      Epicoccum nigrum Pathogen not specific
      Eudarluca caricis Pathogen Leaves not specific
      Gibberella fujikuroi Pathogen Inflorescence/Leaves/Stems not specific
      Gibberella gordonii Pathogen not specific
      Gibberella intricans Pathogen not specific
      Gibberella zeae Pathogen Fruits/pods/Inflorescence not specific
      Meloidogyne incognita Parasite Roots not specific
      Mycosphaerella tassiana Pathogen not specific
      Ostrinia furnacalis Herbivore Leaves/Stems not specific
      Pelopidas mathias Herbivore Leaves not specific
      Rattus Predator Fruits/pods not specific
      Sesamia inferens Herbivore Leaves/Stems not specific

      Notes on Natural Enemies

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      The most serious fungal diseases in C. lacryma-jobi are: Job’s tears smut (caused by Ustilago coicis), tar leaf spot (caused by Phyllachora coicis), rust (Puccinia operta), and Adlay leaf blight (caused by Bipolaris coicis) (Jansen, 2006; Ahmadpour et al., 2013). Job’s tears smut, which infects both the ovary of flowers and leaves, is very widespread and has been reported to cause severe damage to the crops in Thailand, India and China (Titatarn et al., 1983; Zhang et al., 2013).

      Non-fungal pathogens include the Southern rice black-streaked dwarf virus (Pu et al., 2012), the maize chlorotic dwarf virus (Gingery, 1988), and the bacteria Xanthomonas albilineans (leaf scald of sugarcane) and Xanthonomas axonopodis pv. vasculorum (gumming disease of sugarcane) (Hayward, 1993). C. lacryma-jobi is also susceptible to a number of insect pests including the stem borers Ostrinia furnacalis (Asian corn borer) and Chilo suppressalis (Asiatic rice borer), the rice skipper (Pelopidas mathias), the anthurium thrips (Chaetanaphothrips orchidii), the corn leaf aphid (Rhopalosiphum maidis), and the sugarcane woolly aphid (Ceratovacuna lanigera) (Ahmadpour et al., 2013; Kalaisekar et al., 2017). As their names suggest, many of these pathogens and pests also attack major crops such as rice, maize, sugarcane and other grass crops.

      The root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita has also been reported to affect this species (Duke, 1983). Rats, birds, and sometimes grasshoppers and termites may also cause considerable crop losses (Duke, 1983; Jansen, 2006). Schaaffhausen (1952) observed in Brazil that “if seeds are not harvested before birds discover them, almost nothing is left from a small plot”.

      Means of Movement and Dispersal

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      Natural Dispersal

      The floating bead-like involucres containing the fruit are carried by water, particularly during floods. They are also likely dispersed by birds and mammals (Weed Watch, 2010).

      Intentional Introduction

      Coix lacryma-jobi has been intentionally introduced in many tropical and subtropical countries as a cereal crop, and as a forage, medicinal, and ornamental grass.

      Pathway Causes

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      CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
      Botanical gardens and zoosCultivated in botanic gardens as a curiosity for its peculiar bead-like “fruits” Yes Yes Lamarck (1792); Sweet (1827)
      Crop productionPlanted as minor cereal. Introduced and cultivated in many countries as a food grain Yes Yes Schaaffhausen (1952); PROTA (2017)
      Escape from confinement or garden escapeEscaped from cultivation and naturalized in many countries. Often naturalized in areas near villages and farms Yes Yes Jansen (2006); PROTA (2017)
      Flooding and other natural disastersFloating “fruits” can disperse during floods Yes Weed Watch (2010)
      ForageIntroduced and cultivated in many countries as a forage and fodder crop for livestock and poultry Yes Yes Schaaffhausen (1952); FAO (2017)
      HorticultureIntroduced and cultivated in many countries as a garden plant Yes Yes De la Sagra (1850)
      Internet salesFruits are sold online Yes Yes
      Medicinal useUsed in traditional medicine in Asia, often cultivated for medicinal purposes Yes Yes Jain and Banerjee (1974); van den Bergh and Iamsupasit (1996)
      People foragingGrains are eaten by humans and used as beads Yes Yes van den Bergh and Iamsupasit (1996); USDA-ARS (2017)
      Seed tradeFruits are sold online Yes Yes van den Bergh and Iamsupasit (1996)

      Pathway Vectors

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      VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
      Debris and waste associated with human activitiesSeeds Yes Yes van den Bergh and Iamsupasit (1996)
      Floating vegetation and debrisFloating involucres are carried by water Yes Weed Watch (2010)
      MailFruits are sold online Yes Yes
      WaterSeeds dispersed by waterways Yes Yes Technigro (2010)

      Impact Summary

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      CategoryImpact
      Cultural/amenity Positive
      Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
      Environment (generally) Positive and negative
      Human health Positive

      Environmental Impact

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      Impact on Habitats

      Coix lacryma-jobi can spread rapidly along waterways. It is capable of forming dense clumps and large colonies which may block the flow of watercourses and outcompete native plants including mesic and riparian vegetation and native aquatic plants (MacKee, 1994; Technigro, 2010; Weed Watch, 2010; I3N-Brasil, 2017; PIER, 2017).

      Risk and Impact Factors

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      Invasiveness
      • Proved invasive outside its native range
      • Has a broad native range
      • Abundant in its native range
      • Highly adaptable to different environments
      • Is a habitat generalist
      • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
      • Pioneering in disturbed areas
      • Highly mobile locally
      • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
      • Long lived
      • Fast growing
      • Has high reproductive potential
      • Gregarious
      • Reproduces asexually
      • Has high genetic variability
      Impact outcomes
      • Damaged ecosystem services
      • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
      • Modification of hydrology
      • Monoculture formation
      • Negatively impacts agriculture
      • Reduced native biodiversity
      • Threat to/ loss of native species
      Impact mechanisms
      • Competition - monopolizing resources
      • Rapid growth
      • Rooting
      Likelihood of entry/control
      • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
      • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally

      Uses

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      Economic Value

      The hard, glossy involucres of C. lacryma-jobi are commonly used as beads to make necklaces, bracelets, rosaries, curtains, musical shakers and many other decorative objects, which are sold in local markets and online craft stores.

      The soft-shelled variety (ma-yuen) is cultivated as a food grain in several Asian countries both for animal and human consumption. The kernels can be cooked as rice or used for soups and broths. They can also be used to make alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, or can be pounded into a flour to make bread and baked goods. The whole grain and the flour are also used to feed chickens and pigs. The whole plant provides a very palatable fodder for cattle, buffaloes and horses (Schaaffhausen, 1952; Jain and Banerjee, 1974; Jansen, 2006).

      Coix lacryma-jobi is a nutritious food, with a higher protein content than rice and maize. The hulled grains contains 11.6 g of water, 14.8 g of protein, 4.9 g of fat, 66.9 g of carbohydrate and 0.5 g of fiber per 100g edible portion. Minerals and vitamins include Ca (47 mg), P (254 mg), Fe (6 mg), thiamin (0.26 mg), riboflavin (0.19 mg) and niacin (4.7 mg) (Jansen, 2006).

      An anticancer drug known as ‘Kanglaite’ has been developed from the seed oil. The drug is approved in China to treat several types of cancer, and is currently under study in the USA as a potential treatment for pancreatic and prostate cancer (Xi et al., 2016). The main bioactive component is coixenolide, a fatty acid ester that has been shown to possess anticancer activity (Ukita and Tanimura, 1961).

      The largest producer of Coix seeds is China, with a cultivation area of approximately 73000 ha, 32000 of which are in the province of Guizhou (Diao, 2017). The grain is marketed as Chinese pearl barley, Coix seeds or adlay seeds.

      Social Benefit

      Coix lacryma-jobi has been cultivated for food, forage and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. It appears to have been an important crop in Southern and Eastern Asia before rice and maize became widespread (Jansen, 2006). At present, it is rather an accessory crop, but there is a growing demand due to its nutritional and medicinal qualities (Diao, 2017).

      In Ayurveda, Unani and Sidha medicine, C. lacryma-jobi has been used to treat a broad range of ailments including headache, fever, inflammation, rheumatism, diabetes, dysentery, diarrhea, infections, intestinal worms and menstrual disorders. In the traditional Chinese medicine it is used to treat cancer, tumors, enteritis, edema, eczema and warts (Quattrocchi, 2012). The plant has been also used in veterinary medicine in India and Africa. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the macerated roots are used to control internal parasites in livestock (Chifundera, 1998).

      The necklaces and accessories made with the involucres have long been used as ornaments, and in rituals and religious ceremonies (Jain and Banerjee, 1974; Jansen, 2006; Roder, 2006). The dry leaves have been used for thatching in India (Jain and Banerjee, 1974). The dried inflorescences are sometimes used in flower arrangements (Jansen, 2006).

      Environmental Services

      Coix lacryma-jobi is very efficient in removing inorganic nitrogen from polluted waters, which makes it a suitable plant for wastewater treatment in tropical regions (Jampeetong et al., 2013).

      Uses List

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      Animal feed, fodder, forage

      • Fodder/animal feed
      • Forage

      Environmental

      • Agroforestry
      • Amenity

      Fuels

      • Biofuels

      General

      • Botanical garden/zoo
      • Ritual uses
      • Sociocultural value
      • Souvenirs

      Human food and beverage

      • Beverage base
      • Cereal
      • Emergency (famine) food
      • Flour/starch
      • Oil/fat
      • Seeds

      Materials

      • Beads
      • Lipids

      Medicinal, pharmaceutical

      • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
      • Traditional/folklore
      • Veterinary

      Ornamental

      • Cut flower
      • garden plant
      • Potted plant
      • Seed trade

      Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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      The genus Coix is very distinctive and unlikely to be confused with other grasses. Coix lacryma-jobi can be distinguished from other species of Coix by its relatively wider leaves, and by the ovoid (or sometimes cylindrical), 8-15 mm involucres lacking an apical leaf blade. The other three species differ in the following characteristics:

      Coix puellarum, which is sometimes treated as a variety of C. lacryma-jobi, has smaller (4-5 mm), globose involucres. It occurs in Northeastern India, Myanmar, China, Thailand and Vietnam (Shouliang and Phillips, 2006).

      Coix aquatica has decumbent, sometimes floating stems that root at the basal nodes, and much narrower (up to 2.5 cm wide), long-acuminate leaves. It occurs in Sri Lanka, India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia (Shouliang and Phillips, 2006).

      Coix gasteenii, a species endemic to Australia, also has narrower (up to 2.3 cm) leaves, and the involucres bear a distinctive apical leaf blade 5-7 cm long (Simon, 1989).

      Prevention and Control

      Top of page

      Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

      Physical/Mechanical Control

      If identified early, young plants may be removed manually, although care should be taken to remove all of the root system. For mature specimens, stalks containing floral structures or fruits can be removed manually or mechanically. Mature fruits should be carefully collected and disposed of to prevent their dispersal (Weed Watch, 2010).

      Chemical Control

      Drizzle foliar application of glyphosate provided complete control (100% injury) in experimental trials in Hawaii (Motooka, 1999), however, because this species often grows in areas near watercourses, the use of herbicides is not recommended. 

      References

      Top of page

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      24/04/17 Original text by:

      Dr. Fabiola Areces-Berazain, Herbarium UPRRP, University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras 

      Dr. Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany - Smithsonian NMNH 

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