Oil Plants

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Oil Plants


plants that are raised for their fatty oils. They include annual and perennial plants of various families, including the Compositae (sunflower and safflower), Leguminosae (soybeans and peanuts), Labiatae (Perilla and Lallemantia), Oleaceae (olives), and Cruciferae (rape, mustard, and Camelina). Some oil plants are tropical trees (coconut and oil palms, cacao, and tung tree); others are grassy plants cultivated in countries with temperate climates (soybeans, sunflower, rape, oil flax). Although most oil plants accumulate fatty oil in the seeds and fruits, some, such as the chufa, collect it in the tubers. Some plants produce solid oils (palms, cacao, or Japanese wax tree), and others produce liquid oils (olive, tung tree, and grassy plants).

In addition to using oil plants, the vegetable oil industry draws raw material from the seeds of fiber crops (cotton, Linum usitatissimum var. elongata, and hemp), the seeds of some essential oil plants (coriander, caraway, and anise), and the fruits of nut trees (walnut, almond, Siberian pine). Fatty oil is also obtained from the embryos of corn and wheat seeds and from the seeds of peaches, apricots, and other fruits.

In world agriculture the most important oil plants are soybeans, peanuts, sunflower, olives, rape, sesame, and castor beans. In 1971 more than 80 million hectares (ha) were planted with oil crops worldwide, with a gross seed harvest of approximately 90 million tons. In the USSR, sunflower, soybeans, mustard, castor beans, flax, sesame, and other oil plants are raised. (See Table 1 for figures on oil plant production in the USSR.)

Table 1. Oil plant production in the USSR
 Sown area (hectares)Grss seed harvest (tons)

The seeds or fruits of different oil plants contain varying amounts of oil. Sunflower contains 29-57 percent oil on a dry-weight basis; soybeans, 15-26 percent; mustard, 20-45 percent; castor beans, 48-55 percent; oil flax, 35-52 percent; peanuts, 41-57 percent; rape, 45-50 percent; olives, 25-67 percent; and sesame, 50-56 percent.


Minkevich, I. A., and V. E. Borkovskii. Maslichnye kuVtury, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1955.
Maslichnye i efiromaslichnye kul’tury. Under the general editorship of V. S. Pustovoit. Moscow, 1963.
Pustovoit, V. S. Izbr. trudy. Moscow, 1965.
Rukovodstvo po selektsii i semenovodstvo maslichnykh kuVtur. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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