Botanical Name: Simmondsia chinensis
It was the Native Americans who discovered the importance and versatility of jojoba. During the early Eighteenth Century Jesuit missionaries in Baja observed them heating jojoba seeds to soften them. They then used pestle and mortar to create a salve or buttery substance. The latter was applied to the skin and hair to heal and condition. Native Americans also used the salve to soften and preserve animal hides. Pregnant women ate jojoba seeds, believing they assisted during childbirth. Hunters and raiders munched jojoba on the trail to keep hunger at bay.
Of more than 350,000 identified plant species, jojoba is the only one which produces significant quantities of liquid wax esters akin to the natural restorative esters produced by human sebaceous glands. For you chemists out there, the esters, of high molecular weight, are composed almost entirely of straight-chain acids and alcohols. The acids are a mixture of eicosanoic and docosanoic, with small quantities of palmitoleic and oleic. The alcohols consist of eicosanol and docosanol, with smaller quantities of hexacosanol and alcohols of lower molecular weight.