Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Jojoba ~ Slow But Sure

Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) has to be one of the slowest growing shrubs in my garden. I had to look back on earlier photos to see if it had grown at all, since I can’t see any increase in size in the two years since I planted it. Jojoba is a very slow grower at first, but once settled it will grow at a moderate rate to six to eight feet high and wide.

This nondescript shrub is good as a background plant for cacti and succulents. Its blue-green, leathery foliage contrasts nicely with desert wildflowers and spiky Agaves. Another common landscape use is as a hedge or screen. When used this way, minor pruning is usually necessary.

Although the Jojoba shrub is unremarkable in appearance, some things about it make it a fascinating plant:

  • It is dioecious. The female flowers (small and green) are on one plant, and male flowers (larger and yellow and in clusters) on another. Both must be in proximity for pollination to occur. Pollination is by wind or insect.
  • The leaves have a waxy coating to reduce water loss.
  • The leaves can angle in such a way as to keep sunlight at a minimum during the hottest part of the day.
  • The seeds produce a liquid wax that became the alternative to Sperm Whale oil when the whales became a protected species in 1969.
  • Jojoba is commercially grown in the U.S. and Mexico, as well as Israel, Argentina and Australia.
  • The oil, now used in cosmetics, shows promise for use in cooking and in industry.


M Sinclair Stevens (Texas) said...

Thanks for posting the photo and writing about jojoba. I remember in the 1970s when it was touted as the wonder plant to replace sperm whale oil and subsequently became an ingredient in many lotions, creams, and hair conditioners.

I've always been curious about it. I would think it would grow in Austin but I don't remember seeing it in any nursery here.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens

Anonymous said...

Love your blog. Great pictures, and a wealth of information!

Julie said...

WOW...I have never seen a Jojoba before...very interesting plant all the way around!!! It looks great in it's blue-ish coloration as well.

Julie said...

Aiyana...I thought of you when I read the post today at a guy in Spain's blog. He loves trees, and his blog is all about them, but today was about getting pine nuts out of the cone...very good photography and information. Just thought you might like to check it out!

Anonymous said...

I don't think I've ever seen a jojoba plant before - I like the leaf shape and color very well. By the way, I think you've asked here or there if I were in California - yes, So Cal in Sunset zone 23.