Jojoba’s scientific name is Simmondsia chinensis. The exact appearance of the plant depends on the conditions under which it was raised. In some cases, it might be a bush of only one meter. In others, it could be a tree standing upwards of three meters tall. It is the seeds of the tree that are farmed as all natural jojoba is extracted from them.
As it grows naturally in desert conditions, it is incredibly resistant to heat and drought. Its thick, waxy leaves resist the loss of water, even under the heat of the sun. Its root system takes advantage of the infrequent rains as well as deep, underground aquifers. Its ability to thrive in harsh conditions allows it to be an economic resources in some of the most impoverished areas of the world.
In the wild, it is rare for a jojoba plant to reach its full height. The majority of wild plants will remain bush sized, reaching no more than a meter in height. When carefully tended to, it might make to more than five meters fall. For the purposes of commercial production, a height of two to four meters is ideal.
The jojoba is a perennial that has a natural lifespan of about forty years. The thick, grey-green leaves maintain their color year-round. The brown seed of the tree yields liquid wax when pressed—the jojoba.
Each plant is either male or female. The male plant has flowers for pollination while the female plants produce the seeds. The sex of the plant cannot be determined until maturity is reached.
Jojoba begins to produce flower buds in the summer and fall, which open the following spring after a stress of cold or drought. The fruits are green at first but then ripen into a rich brown, and are typically the size of a hazelnut. After the flesh dries out and shrinks, it peels back to expose the brown seeds inside.
Jojoba leaves are protected by a dense covering of waxy plates that serve to protect the jojoba plant both from water loss and from insect attacks, fungi, and pollution. However, its most interesting feature is its ability to go dormant in extreme heat, conserving its water and energy.
Eighty percent of a jojoba plant’s roots are in the first meter of soil. What this means is that the plant is able to absorb the maximum amount of water after a rain. The other 20%? Those run deeper, including the tap root—it can run more than ten meters deep on mature plants. This allows it to utilize moisture deep within the earth.
Potential for Crop Development
Due to its desert resistance, it is the ideal crop for impoverished communities located in areas of intense heat or drought. Across the world, there are people who live on arid and semi-arid land that most regard as wasteland. With climate change and urban expansion, this type of land is only growing in mass, and there are limited crops that can thrive on it, giving the locals a desperately needed source of income. For those living in these areas, jojoba is set to become their cash crop, supporting themselves and their communities.
Jojoba Naturals is passionate about using jojoba to bring a better standard of living to rural farmers in the Middle East through our farms and our projects.