Jojoba, scientifically named Simmodsia chinensis, is part of the Simmondsiaceae family and this plant is native to the desert areas in California, Arizona and Mexico, as well as certain parts of Africa. This plant is commercially grown for the oil that can be extracted from its seeds. In India’s Thar Desert, this plant is utilized to prevent and fight desertification.
Description of the Jojoba Plant
This plant reaches heights of approximately 3.3 to 6.6 feet tall, but there are some plants in the wild as tall as 9.8 feet. The crown of the jojoba plant is dense and broad, and leaves are oval in shape. The leaves are approximately 0.59 to 1.18 inches broad and 0.79 to 1.57 inches in length. Greenish-yellow, small flowers that do not have any petals, but possess five to six sepals surround the gray-green, thick, waxy leaves.
Reproduction of the Jojoba Plant
The majority of all jojoba plants are either male or female, however, the rare hermaphroditic jojoba plant does occur. Male plants pollinate the seeds that come from the flowers on the female plants. The leaves on this plant are aerodynamic which makes it easy for wind to take pollen on a male flower and deliver it to a female plant for pollination. Pollination is between February and March for jojoba plants in the Northern hemisphere and between August and September for the jojoba plants in the southern hemisphere.
Jojoba Plant History
The jojoba plant was first discovered by Native Americans who used it for its medicinal properties, such has wound healing and treating sores. Jesuit missionaries in Baia came across this plant in the early eighteenth century and learned to soften the seeds with heat and then create a salve with the extracted oils. They used this salve to soothe the skin, nourish the hair and aid in the treatment of an array of skin conditions.
Cultivation and Modern Uses of the Jojoba Plant
The jojoba plant is most popular for the jojoba oil extracted from the seeds. This oil is ideal for the skin because it is similar to the sebum that humans produce. This allows for skin soothing and moisturization without clogging the pores like other, heavier oils do. With its temperature-dependent viscosity, lubricating properties and lack of odor, it is ideal for people of all skin and hair types.
This oil is also used in the pharmaceutical industry in the creation of pharmaceutical compounds. These compounds are most often used in specialty and high-end skincare products. Some prescription skincare products, such as anti-acne preparations, may also contain this oil.
The jojoba plant has a rich history and many of its characteristics are quite unique. The medicinal uses of the plant date back centuries and many of these uses are still popular today. The oil from jojoba seeds has many uses and many of these are backed by valid scientific research.