The World's first certified organic growers and processors with C.C.O.F. Since 1990
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LaRonna Jojoba Company
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with Huell Howser
As aired on KCET L.A. PBS
Jojoba is a wind pollinated plant, which indicates that it existed before insects. Once the three styles are exposed, the flower is ready for pollen. This occurs from November-December until February. We at LaRonna work towards shortening that window through our superior cultivars that we have selected from the wild, cultivated farms, and testing plants from University of California at Riverside, University of Arizona, and from various researchers in the field.
There is a distinct female and male plant. The flower has no nectar or scent, therefore bees do not visit the female jojoba. The dormant female flower is long and wispy. One active, or ready for pollen three long sticky hairs, or styles appear at the base of the capsule. We have observed that once the seed is pollinated the sepal curls up like a sombrero to protect the seed from sunburn.
The dormant male flower looks like a fist of tiny balls. Once active, the “fist” opens and yellow pollen is exposed. We collect pollen and process it for pollination of the field. Since jojoba is wind pollinated, we do not let it up to Mother Nature to pollinate for us. We have observed in cultivated fields that one side of the plant will contain seeds, while the other side will be full of abortions (un-pollinated seeds). We determined that during the window of pollination the wind blew only one way leaving about half the field seedless. Bees will visit the male flowers then buzz away to the hive not visiting the female jojoba at all. We have been testing one male we received from Larry Summers who worked with UC Riverside many years ago. This male is extremely prolific. It create very large pollen flowers that resemble a beard, so we named him “The Old Man”. Experiments that have been conducted with this male is exciting. When isolating female plants in a greenhouse and then applying pollen from The Old Man, researchers have found an 7% increase in oil production.
We have located a plant in the wild that is a female hermaphrodite, and testing cuttings in our research/mother block. We named this plant LaRonna (Larry & Donna). This plant has both female and male reproductive organs, with the female trait being dominant. The female hermaphrodite produces styles and a “crown of pollen” under the sombrero, and produces a viable seed. We have sent images of this plant to scientists who believe we have located the offspring from the oldest jojoba. It is believed that jojoba existed as hermaphroditic then over the millenniums evolved into a dioecious (distinct male and female) plant. The plant we located now lives inside Joshua Tree National Park because of the Desert Protection Act of 1994 and will be protected forever. We have never showed anyone this plant for fear of people “studying it to death”. We believe this is the future of jojoba in terms of hybridizing.
Male hermaphrodites are rather common. Its dominant reproductive trait is that of a male plant. It produces lots of pollen, and produces extremely small seed that is not economically viable.