Scientific: Simmondsia chinensis (Synonyms: Simmondsia californica, Buxus chinensis)
Common: jojoba, goat nut, or coffee berry
Family: Simmondsiaceae (formerly Buxaceae)
Origin: Across all upper Sonoran Desert habitats on hillsides and slopes above desert valley floors in Arizona, California, Baja California, and Sonora.

Pronounciation: Sim-mond-SEE-a chi-NEN-sis

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 12-13
USDA 9-10 (arid zones only)

Landscape Use: Xeric and desert landscapes themes, very informal hedge, background, screen, desert food crop (female plants only), attracts birds.

Form & Character: Evergreen perennial shrub, stiff, open, rounded, arid and informal.

Growth Habit: Slow to moderate growth rate to 3 to 10 feet with greater spread. Stems and branches are very brittle. Its size in urban landscapes is much dependent on water availability, although it can be easily maintained with light pruning at under 5 to 6 feet in height when given minimal to no supplemental water.

Foliage/texture: Ovate dull, gray-green thick leaves to 1 inch on dull-green stems, leaves nearly sessile, medium fine texture.

Flowers & fruits: Jojoba is dioecious (separate male and female plants), male flowers are small, 1/4 inch wide in panicled clusters, female flowers to 3/4 inch across, cream colored. Flowering occurs duringr during winter and is not ornamental. Jojoba fruits on female plants only are many, the fruit exocarp is light beige that opens in late June and July showing a darkened nutty mesocarp seed.

Seasonal color: None

Temperature: Tolerant

Light: Full sun required

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: Apply only limited supplemental water once established in Phoenix landscapes. Heavy irrigation regimens promotes weak, rank, spindly, and unruly growth that increases the need for frequent pruning. If unchecked, irrigated jojoba shrubs will become massive!

Pruning: Pruning requirements are tightly coupled to the amounts of supplemental water given. Water less and prune less. Water more and prune more. Real horticulturists will give jojoba in the landscape little to no supplemental water and will then prune lightly on only a one- to three-year basis to accentuate its natural shape. In contrast, hort clods will water jojoba like lantana or pansies and will end up shearing jojoba on an almost bi-weekly basis because of its explosive growth. Don't be a hort clod. Conserve water and please do not formally shear jojoba!

Propagation: Seed (easiest), cuttings.

Disease and pests: None

Additional comments: Jojoba is currently experiencing an upswing in landscape popularity in the Phoenix area. Jojoba should not be planted in small or narrow planters. Jojoba performs poorly if overwatered and sheared sheared. I have found though personnal experimentation that growth of jojoba shrubs in Phoenix landscapes can be effectively controlled through the use of antigibberellin plant growth regulators (PGRs).

Jojoba fruit are edible, have a high oil content, and can be used as a substitute for sperm whale oil. The leaves can be used in a tea that will reduce swelling of multiple bodily mucous membranes. In Mexico, jojoba teas have long been used for alleviating asthma or making soaps. A tea of seeds is reported to reduce inflammation in pharngitis, tonsilitis and various types of sore throats. Jojoba stems are very brittle.

Simmondsia is a named derived from English botanist and physician, Thomas William Simmonds (1767-1804).