Limnanthes alba Hartw.
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
A relatively new crop being tested as source of oil, possibly as replacement
for spermwhale oil. Whale oil has the unique ability to cling to metal
surfaces of gears and bearings while withstanding wide temperature variations
and high pressure. Until 1972, the US imported nearly 25,000 MT whale oil per
year, to be used in automotive transmission fluids, leather tanning surfaces,
textile manufacturing lubricants, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, watch lubricants,
etc. Seeds contain 26.8% oil. Meal from seeds may find use as feed component.
No data available.
The seed contains ca 20% protein, 2530% oil, with 1.56% volatile
isothiocyanates. According to Jolliff (1981) the high concentration of C20 and
fatty acids in white foam seed oil is unique. No other seed oil is known to
have as high concentration (>90%) of total fatty acids of chain length
greater than C18.
Annual herbs; stems commonly erect or ascending, 1030 cm tall; leaves up to 10
cm long, alternate, petioled, without stipules, dissected or pinnate with 59
segments, segments ovate, simple, 3-lobed or 3-parted; flowers 5-merous,
crateriform to campanulate, on peduncles up to 10 cm long; sepals lanceolate to
ovate, acuminate, 78 mm long, glabrous to densely villous, not accrescent;
petals obovate, truncate to obcordate, 1015 mm long, white, some aging
lilac-purple or pink at tips, a few scattered long hairs from veins and 2 rows
or hairs at base; stamens 56 mm long, anthers 2 mm long; pistil 56 mm long;
nutlets obovoid, 34 mm long, smooth or wrinkled to very rough with broad
ridges. Fl. spring.
Repotted from the North American (California) Center of Diversity, white foam,
or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate slope and waterlogging (Duke, 1978).
Limnanthes alba var. versicolor (Green) C.T.Mason, has glabrous
herbage, glabrous to sparingly villous sepals, and smooth nutlets to those with
scattered sharp tubercles, yielding 30.9% oil. Currently 'Foamore' is the only
named cv but the improved selection 703A yields as well as 'Foamore' and
exhibits better seed retention (Jolliff, 1981). (2n = 10)
Native to Sierra foothills and adjacent rolling plains from Sacramento to
Ranging from Warm Temperate Moist through Subtropical Dry to Moist Forest Life
Zones, white foam, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate annual precipitation
of 7 to 11 dm, annual temperature of 12 to 19°C, and pH of 5.6 to 6 (Duke,
1978). Commonly found on banks, gravelly bars of small intermittent streams in
Sierra Nevada foothills, growing on porous, quick-drying soils, essentially a
xerophyte, flowering and setting seed on the last seasonal soil and stem
moisture. Has about the same water requirement as dry-farmed winter grains,
and seems to require less moisture than other species of this genus. Does well
on soils with pH 6.2, especially on slopes and in cultivated fields.
Propagated from seed. Experimental, seeds germinated at 4.5°C, gave poor
germination at 21°C, and went dormant at 26.5°C. Growth and seedling
periods closely approximate those of oats and barley. Good weed control,
essential for high seed yield, has been achieved using propachlor and diclofog
(Jolliff, 1981). Conclusive data on fertilizer responses are unavailable.
As small streams dry in late spring, growth is terminated and plants rapidly
mature their seeds. Seed dates range from May 530. In drier seasons and
sites, plants may wither away in flower without seed formation. Shattering may
cause 1654% seed loss in Limnanthes alba (7193% in Limnanthes
douglasii). Direct combining and windrowing followed by combining led to
excessive seed losses in earlier studies. With improved cvs and timelier
harvests, greater than 95% seed recovery has been achieved from either direct
combine harvesting on research plots or windrowing and then combining on a
commercial field scale (Jolliff, 1981).
Seed yield is good, and seed retention is excellent. Experimentally, when
planted at seed rate of 2.9 kg/ha yielded 1,650 kg/ha, up to 24.7 kg/ha yielded
about 2,000 kg/ha. Applying 4850 kg N/ha following a non-legume crop in early
March gave seed yields of 790 and 700 kg/ha of seed respectively; without any
fertilizer, yields of 530 kg/ha were obtained. Yields of 400 kg/ha are
reported for Limnanthes bakeri, 900 for Limnanthes alba, and
1,900 for Limnanthes douglasii, the most promising oilseed species in
the genus. Researchers hope to double yields, but for now, with 2430% oil
content, we visualize oil yields of 500 kg/ha difficult to attain (cf
Simmondsia, also considered a potential substitute for sperm whale oil).
Research on this plant as an oilseed is just being developed. The most
preferred characters in section Inflexae, to which this species belongs,
are good seed retention, lower water requirements, adaptation to cultivated
land, and slightly higher oil content.
Oregon could already produce 1,100 kg seed/ha yielding 275 kg oil (Oregon's
Agriculture Progress, Spring/Summer 1975). At Corvallis, seed yields have
ranged from 9001,800 kg/ha (Jolliff, 1981).
No pests or diseases have been reported for this species.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 161. In: ASA Special
Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc. Agron.
- Jolliff, G.D. 1981. Development and production of meadowfoam (Limanthes
alba). p. 269285. In: Pryde, E.H., Princen, L.H., and Mukherjee, K.D.
(eds.), New sources of fats and oils. AOCS Monograph 9. American Oil Chemists'
Society, Champaign, IL.
Last update Wednesday, January 7, 1998 by aw