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Contributor: Aliza Benzioni

Copyright © 1997. All Rights Reserved. Quotation from this document should cite and acknowledge the contributor.

  1. Common Names
  2. Scientific Names
  3. Uses
  4. Origin
  5. Crop Status
    1. Toxicities
    2. Traditional Uses
  6. Botany
    1. Morphology and Floral Biology
    2. Ecology
  7. Crop Culture
    1. Propagation
    2. Field Practices
    3. Pests and Diseases
    4. Processing and Marketing
  8. Germplasm
  9. Key References
  10. Selected Experts

Common Names

English: Goat nut, jojoba (Pronounced hohoba)

Scientific Names

Species: Simmondsia chinensis (Link) Schneider

Family: Simmondsiaceae


Jojoba wax is made up of straight-chain esters of mono-unsaturated long chain fatty acids and fatty alcohols and has an average total carbon chain length of 42 carbons. At room temperature, it is a light yellow liquid and does not become rancid or damaged by prolonged exposure to high temperatures. The wax can be isomerized, hydrogenated, sulphurized, chlorinated or transesterified. The wax and its derivatives have a wide range of industrial uses, mainly in cosmetics in which it is incorporated in formulations for skin care preparations such as lotions, moisturizers, massage oils, and soothing creams. It is also widely used in hair care products, such as shampoos, gels and mousses, and is a very good base for lipstick, makeup and nail products. There are many potential uses in pharmaceuticals, and in industry (as extenders for plastics, printer's ink, gear-oil additives , various lubricants etc.).

After oil expression the meal contains more than 30% protein and can be used as animal feed after detoxification.


Perennial evergreen shrub endemic to the Sonoran desert (south west Arizona and California, Northern Mexico and Baja California)

Crop Status

Jojoba is cultivated mainly in Arizona, Northern Mexico, Argentina and Israel. In Australia, Chile and India small scale planting is done. All new plantations are from vegetative propagated plants originating in cuttings from selected cloness. In Israel, about 700 ha were planted between 1990-1993.


The plant contains a group of glycosides, known as food intake inhibitors with simmondsin [2-(cyano-methylene)-3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethoxycyclohexyl-b-glucoside] being the most important toxic factor. These glycosides are found in leaves, stems, roots as well as in jojoba meal after oil extraction. Although simmondsin contains a cyano group, the blood concentration of CN- and SCN- in rats exposed to simmondsin, was not elevated, and no toxicological influence on liver, pancreas and kidney was found. It did not cause any pathological changes in internal organs of rats. It is believed that the food intake reduction after intake of simmondsin is probably due to a specific inhibition of hunger.

Traditional Uses

Indigenous Amerinds in the Sonora and Baja California used jojoba seed and oil for cooking, hair care, and for treatments of many medical problems such as poison ivy, sores, wounds, colds, cancer, and kidney malfunction.


Jojoba is a single species in the Simmondiaceae, and possibly belongs to the subclass-Hamamelididae (Barabe et al. 1982).

Morphology and Floral Biology

Jojoba is a dioecious wind-pollinated shrub, reaching a height of 1-5 meters and having a long life span (100-200 years). Genetic variability in morphology, anatomy and physiology within the species is very large and enable selection of clones for high yield and other agricultural attributes. Leaves are xerophytic with a thick cuticle, sunken stomata. They contain special tissue with a high concentration of phenol compounds. Flowers are apetalous: the female ones are usually solitary, one per two nodes although flowers every node or in clusters are not rare. The male flowers are clustered. Flower buds form in the axiles of leaves solely on the new vegetative growth occurring during the warm season under favorable temperatures and water regime. New flower buds are dormant and will open only after a cool season with enough cold units for the fulfillment of their chilling requirements. Anthesis occurs in the spring when the soil and air temperature rise to above 15°C. Severe water stress prevents opening of flowers.

The fruit is a capsule containing one to three dark brown seeds that normally ranges in their dry weight between 0.5-1.1 g and contain 44-56% wax. Fruits ripens during the spring and early summer and seeds fall to the ground in late summer.


Populations of jojoba are found in diverse climatic, geographic and edaphic conditions, at altitudes from sea level to about 1,200 m, usually on coarse, sandy or gravelly soils with good drainage. Native jojoba populations can be found in areas receiving an annual precipitation of 80-450 mm and having temperatures ranging from 9°C to 50°C (Gentry 1958). The plant is drought resistant and to some extent also salt-resistant.

Crop Culture


Jojoba may be propagated by direct seeding at depths of 2-5 cm in wet, well-drained soil. A seeded plantation of jojoba has genetic heterogeneity, and low average yields.

Half of the seedlings are males which should be rougged as only 8-10% males are sufficient for pollination.

Direct selection based on identifying potentially promising genotypes and their testing after vegetative propagation has enabled improvement of the crop performance. Vegetative propagation enables the establishment of plantations with the desired proportion of male to female plants of preselected superior clones. Preparation of rooted cuttings of jojoba is done in a greenhouse with substrate temperatures of 30°C and mist applied for 10 seconds every 8-10 min. Three-node young branches are held for 48 hours in a refrigerator, dipped in rooting powder, and placed in peat containers (Jiffys). Rooting occurs within three to five weeks. The rooted cuttings are transferred to final pots after about four to five weeks and gradually hardened by transferring to unheated tables, and then to a net house (30% shade).

Plants are ready for transplantation to the field after three to six months. Rooting percentage range from 15 to 95%, depending on the clone and the season.

In vitro propagation is possible, and rooted plantlets may be produced. Hardening and transfer to the greenhouse is yet not very successful.

Field Practices

Preparation of the land includes ploughing to a minimum of 50 cm in both directions. The plants are planted in straight rows 4.5 m apart with 2 m between plants in a row (1,110 plants/ha). Every 16th row may be seeded with seeds from the particular clones being planted in order to supply males for pollination. The direction of the rows depends on the wind direction and the topography (to prevent soil erosion). Irrigation is applied about three weeks before planting to germinate weeds, which are then treated with contact herbicides. Afterwards a pre-germination inhibitor (Simazine) is applied and activated by watering. Planting is carried out in wet soil, with each plant being placed directly adjacent to a dripper. The plants should be handled very carefully so that the delicate root system remains intact.

Drip irrigation which is buried in the third year of the plantation is recommended. Irrigation is applied daily in the first month and then every week in sandy soil and once in two to three weeks during the summer.

Fertilizer is applied with the irrigation water, mainly nitrogen phosphate and potassium. The amount of water for a fully developed plantation is about 0.35 of evaporation as measured with a pan class A. Optimal planting time is spring and early summer (May-July). Late planting (autumn) is less successful and results in a whole season difference in growth and development. The most serious problem in the two first years of the plantations are weeds. Timing of the first significant yields depends on the clone planted. For some clones 1-1.5 kg/plant may be obtained in the third year. Other clones may have harvestable yields on their fourth year.

Harvesting is done from the ground in late summer after most of the seeds have fallen onto the soil. Seeds may be collected manually or by machines.

Several machines are available: one is based on vacuum and the other is a pickup that collects the seed from a central wind-row into which it has been concentrated by means of a blower and a sweeper Harvesting efficiency can be improved by using a shaker that causes the seeds that still adhere to the plant to fall onto the ground and a blower to push the seeds out from under the bushes. Auxiliary equipment for the preparation of the soil, shaping of the bushes and other operations related to harvest is also available. The problem of pruning of young plantations grown from cuttings has still not been solved.

Pests and Diseases

It has been found that during the propagation of cuttings the dominant phytopathological problems in the nursery are caused by two species of Fusarium, F. solani and F. oxysporum. In addition, a number of other pathogens were observed: Alternaria spp., Pythium spp., Phytophthora sp., Rhizoctonia solani, Cylindrocladium sp., Diplodia sp., Colletotrichum sp., Phoma sp. and Erwinia spp.

In jojoba plants in plantations, the major problems are infection by F. oxysporum and but also by F. solani. The symptoms of fusarium disease may include wilt and defoliation of leaves, which develop into desiccation and death of the plant. The infection may lie dormant and the disease can take hold in quite well-developed plants three and four years after the infection.

Processing and Marketing

The extraction of jojoba oil is performed by screw pressing. The main problem at the moment is marketing. The supply of jojoba oil is steadily increasing as new plantations from vegetatively propagated material in Israel, Argentina, and other countries come into production. Altough the demand for jojoba oil grows, it is currently lagging behind the supply, and prices are tending to decrease.


Selection of jojoba clones with high yields and early coming into production has been done in several countries. Frost-resistant clones have been selected in Australia and the USA. Clones with different chilling requirements, have been selected in Israel. Since seedlings are heterozygotes the genetic variability is vast, and selection for desirable characters can be done in seeded plantations if necessary.

Key References

Selected Experts

Abbott T.C.
Peoria, Illinois 61604
309/681-6533; 309/681-6524

Aliza Benzioni
Institutes for Applied Research
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
P.O. Box 653
Beer-Sheva 84105 Israel
Tel. 07-6461970; Fax: 07-6472984

Dr. Claudia Botti Gilchrist
Universidad de Chile, Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias
Casilla 1004 Santiago
Tel: 56-2-2110973
Fax: 56-2-6785700

Robert L. Dunstone
Jojoba Science
11 Gregson Place
Curtin ACT 2605
Tel: 06 285 1754 ; Fax: 06 285 3247

David Mills
Institutes for Applied Research
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
P.O. Box 653
Beer-Sheva 84105 Israel
Tel: 07-6461970; Fax: 07-6472984;

E. Shiloh
Kibbutz Hazerim
Do'ar Na Ha-Negev

O. Vinkler
Jojoba Israel
Kibbutz Hazerim
Do'ar Na Ha Negev, Israel
Tel: 07-6473 268; Fax: 07-64730149

David A. Palzkill
Desert Foothills Station
P.O.Box 65689
Tucson, AZ 85728
Tel: 520-887-8635; Fax: 520-887-8635

H.C. Purcell
Purcell Jojoba Company
Genetic Research Division
P.O.Box 956
Avila Beach, CA 93424

Carol A. Whittaker
Hyder Jojoba, Inc.
1550 E Missouri Ave #201
Phoenix, AZ 85014

[Contributor: Aliza Benzioni, Institutes for Applied Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev]

Copyright © 1997. All Rights Reserved. Quotation from this document should cite and acknowledge the contributor.

Last update Tuesday, February 24, 1998 by aw