Advanced Biofuel Center

Jojoba: A Potential Desert Oil Crop


Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis usually grows to a height of 1-2m and may reach heights of three meters or more under ideal growing conditions. S. chinensis has a normal life span of at least 100 years and may live more than 200 years. Pollination is via wind or insects. The fruit is a green capsule enclosing as many three seeds. When ripe (3-6 months after fertilization) the capsule splits and reveals the seed, which is brown, wrinkled and about the size of a small olive (there are usually 300 to 1,000 seeds/lbs). The mature seeds are hard, oval, dark reddish-brown with a wrinkled surface and contain 42-58% liquid wax esters.1 Consumption of large quantities of jojoba seed meal results in toxicity in many mammals, and the indigestible wax is sometimes used as a laxative in humans.2

 Jojoba plantations have been established in a number of desert and semi-desert areas, predominantly in Argentina, India, Israel, Mexico, Egypt, Palestinian Authority, Peru and the US. Excessive cold has been known to kill entire seedling crops. Jojoba, as a desert plant, is very tolerant of high temperatures.

Long-term success of commercial jojoba production relies on improved yield and a strong market. The value of jojoba oil as a cosmeceutical ingredient, an alternative industrial fluid with multiple applications and as a replacement for non-renewable fossil petroleum has been demonstrated.

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