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Simmondsia chinensis

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Simmondsia chinensis

Jojoba
File:Jojoba1343.JPG
A wild jojoba bush
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Simmondsiaceae
van Tieghem ex Reveal & Hoogland
Genus: Simmondsia
Species: S. chinensis
Binomial name
Simmondsia chinensis
(Link) C. K. Schneid.

Jojoba Thar Desert in India.

Description

Jojoba grows to 1–2 metres (3.3–6.6 ft) tall, with a broad, dense crown. The leaves are opposite, oval in shape, 2–4 centimetres (0.79–1.57 in) long and 1.5–3 centimetres (0.59–1.18 in) broad, thick waxy glaucous gray-green in color. The flowers are small, greenish-yellow, with 5–6 sepals and no petals.

Each plant is single-sex, either male or female, with hermaphrodites being extremely rare. The fruit is an acorn-shaped ovoid, three-angled capsule 1–2 centimetres (0.39–0.79 in) long, partly enclosed at the base by the sepals. The mature seed is a hard oval, dark brown in color and contains an oil (liquid wax) content of approximately 54%. An average-size bush produces 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of pollen, to which few humans are allergic.[1] The female plants produce seed from flowers pollinated by the male plants. Jojoba leaves have an aerodynamic shape, creating a spiral effect, which brings wind-born pollen from the male flower to the female flower. In the Northern Hemisphere, pollination occurs during February and March. In the Southern Hemisphere, pollination occurs during August and September.

Jojoba foliage provides year-round food opportunity for many animals, including deer, javelina, bighorn sheep, and livestock. The nuts are eaten by squirrels, rabbits, other rodents, and larger birds. Only Bailey's Pocket Mouse, however, is known to be able to digest the wax found inside the jojoba nut.

In large quantities, the seed meal is toxic to many mammals, and the indigestible wax acts as a laxative in humans. The Seri, who utilize nearly every edible plant in their territory, do not regard the beans as real food and in the past ate it only in emergencies.[1]

Despite its scientific name Simmondsia chinensis, Jojoba does not originate in China; the botanist Johann Link, originally named the species Buxus chinensis, after misreading a collection label "Calif" as "China".

It was the Native Americans who discovered the importance and versatility of jojoba. During the early eighteenth century Jesuit missionaries in Baja observed them heating jojoba seeds to soften them. They then used pestle and mortar to create a salve or buttery substance. The latter was applied to the skin and hair to heal and condition. Native Americans also used the salve to soften and preserve animal hides. Pregnant women ate jojoba seeds, believing they assisted during childbirth. Hunters and raiders munched jojoba on the trail to keep hunger at bay.

Jojoba was collected again in 1836 by Thomas Nuttall who described it as a new genus and species in 1844, naming it Simmondsia californica, but priority rules require that the original specific epithet be used. The common name should also not be confused with the similar-sounding Jujube (Ziziphus zizyphus), an unrelated plant.

Etymology

The name "jojoba" originated with the O'odham people of the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States, who treated burns with an antioxidant salve made from a paste of the jojoba nut.[1]

Cultivation and uses


Jojoba is grown for the liquid wax (commonly called jojoba oil) in its seeds.[2] This oil is rare in that it's an extremely long (C36–C46) straight-chain wax ester and not a triglyceride, making jojoba and its derivative jojoba esters more similar to human sebum and whale oil than to traditional vegetable oils.

Jojoba oil is easily refined to be odorless, colorless and oxidatively stable, and is often used in cosmetics as a moisturizer and as a carrier oil for specialty fragrances. It also has potential use as both a biodiesel fuel for cars and trucks, as well as a biodegradable lubricant.

Plantations of jojoba have been established in a number of desert and semi-desert areas, predominantly in Argentina, Australia, Israel, Mexico, the Palestinian Authority, Peru, and the United States. It is currently the Sonoran Desert's second most economically valuable native plant (overshadowed only by the Washingtonia palms used in horticulture).

Selective breeding is developing plants that produce more beans with higher wax content, as well as other characteristics that will facilitate harvesting.[1]

References

External links

  • Selected Families of Angiosperms: Rosidae—An explanation of the scientific name
  • Jojoba oil as biodiesel
  • Alternative Field Crops Manual
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