Wood oil plant in China

China has many woody oil plants, main species include Jatropha curcas of Euphorbiaceae, Pistacia chinensis of Anacardiaceae, Cornus wilsoniana of Cornaceae, Xanthoceras sorbifolia of Sapindaceae, and Camellia oleifera of Theaceae etc.

Jatropha curcas
Jatropha curcas is a plant species of genus Jatropha of family Euphorbiaceae, originated in America. The species was introduced into China 600 years ago, suitable for tropical, subtropical and low rainfall dry heat valleys on the south of latitude of 31° N, with altitude below 1,600 m, annual rainfall between 720-2600 mm and annual average temperature of 15.0-27℃. The species is now widely grown in south China, with height of 2-7 m, multiple braches, 3 seeds in each fruit, oil content of 40-60%. The species usually flowers twice a year in areas with higher temperature, and starts to flower at 3 or 4 years old. The oil of the species is an ideal raw material for bio-diesel, dry fruit production can reach 9 tons/ha, oil production is 1.5-3.0 tons/ha.

The fruit shells, leaves of Jatropha curcas contain rich compounds of Jatrophlone A, Jatrophloe B, Jatrophol, jatrophthome and their derivatives.

Xanthoceras sorbifolia
Xanthoceras sorbifolia is a deciduous tree species of Sapindaceae, with tree height up to 8 m, and DBH (diameter at breast height) up to 1 m, capsules of the species round, large and open up at mature. Trees are planted at 1 year old, start to flower next year and fruiting at the third year. At 5 years old, the proportion of fruiting trees can be up to over 95%. On slopes of barren mountains, production of fresh fruits can be more than 22,500 kg per ha, equivalent to more than 300 kg seeds, at 10 years old, seed production can be more than 10 kg per tree. The species is light preferring, drought and cold resistant, mainly grown in northeast and north China. The oil production from fruits with shells is 30%, and 65% from the pips.

Pistacia chinensis
Pistacia chinensis is a deciduous tree species of family Anacardiaceae, with height up to more than 30 m, distributed in the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River system and north and southwest China. The oil content of seeds is about 40%, and the composition of fat acids in the oils is very similar to rapeseed oil. According to a survey conducted in 24 provinces of China: Currently, China has 133,000 ha of Pistacia chinensis resources. With a stocking density of 600 trees per ha and a production of 20 kg per tree, the annual production of bio-diesel will be about 3,000 kg per ha, close to the production of Jatropha curcas.

Cornus wilsoniana
Cornus wilsoniana, a deciduous tree species of genus Cornus of family Cornaceae, is distributed in limestone mountainous areas in Yangtze River system and southwest China, and it can also be found in areas along and on the south of Yellow River. The species start to fruit 2-3 years after planting, peak period of fruiting lasts for more than 50 years and life span of the trees can reach 200 years. Adult trees can produce 50 kg fruits per year per tree, and the highest can reach 150 kg. The oil content of a dried complete fruit is 33-36%.

Camellia oleifera
Camellia oleifera, a evergreen shrub or tree species of the family Theaceae, is distributed in 17 provinces/municipalities in China, with tree height up to 3-6 m. Trees start to fruit 3 years after planting. Peak period of fruiting starts from 6-7 years after planting. The life span of the species can be as long as over 100 years. Oil content of the seeds is over 40%, oil production can reach 0.5 tons/ha, and it can reach 0.7 tons/has for some unique varieties.

(Presented by Prof. Hou Yuanzhao at University of Joensuu, 2007)


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