Lesquerella Scrutinized as Oil, Gum, Meal
By Marcia Wood
November 18, 1999
Researchers around the country have
nudged lesquerella--a native wild plant in the mustard family--a few steps
closer to becoming a profitable new source of oil, gum and meal for industrial,
home and farm uses.
Scientists with USDA's
Agricultural Research Service in Arizona
bred Lesquerella fendleri plants that boast yellow-coated seeds.
These seeds have less of the troublesome natural pigments that can give
lesquerella's oil an unwanted red-to-brown color. Pigments pose a costly
obstacle to commercialization, because they have to be removed for product uses
David A. Dierig and Terry A. Coffelt of the agency's
U.S. Water Conservation
Laboratory in Phoenix made the yellow-coated seeds available to growers
several years ago. More recently, they bred lesquerellas that are salt-tolerant
or have more oil. Lesquerella oil is a promising alternative to castor oil,
today imported for lubricants, coatings, plastics, paints, lipstick, shampoo
and other products.
In Peoria, Ill., ARS researchers Thomas F. Abbott and Ronald A. Holser
investigate new uses and markets for lesquerella's oil, gum and meal. The gum
could improve the texture of frozen foods or serve as a thickener for paints or
drilling fluids. Lesquerella meal may be an ideal "binder" to keep
feed pellets from crumbling.
Lesquerella is native to Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Texas and
Mexico. An article in the November Agricultural Research magazine tells
more. View it online at:
Scientific contact: David A. Dierig, ARS U.S. Water Conservation
Laboratory, Phoenix, Ariz., phone (602) 379-4356, ext. 265, fax (602) 379-4355,
firstname.lastname@example.org; Thomas F.
Abbott, New Crops Research
Unit, ARS National Center for
Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, Ill., phone (309) 681-6533, fax
(309) 681-6524; email@example.com.