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Limnanthes alba - Hartw. ex Benth.

Common Name Meadowfoam, White meadowfoam
Family Limnanthaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Vernal pools or low moist open places from sea level to 1200 metres[71]. The sub-species L. alba versicolor(Greene.)C.T.Mason. grows at elevations up to 1600 metres[71].
Range South-western N. America - California.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Moist Soil Full sun
Limnanthes alba Meadowfoam, White meadowfoam
Limnanthes alba Meadowfoam, White meadowfoam


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Limnanthes alba is a ANNUAL growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in). It is in flower from May to June. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


L. douglasii alba.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Oil
Edible Uses: Oil

None known

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

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Other Uses


An oil obtained from the seed has similar properties to whale sperm oil and to Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis). It has specialized industrial applications[141]. The seed contains ca 20% protein, 25 - 30% oil, with 1.56% volatile isothiocyanates. The high concentration of C20 and fatty acids in the 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[269].

Cultivation details

Succeeds in any soil[1]. Prefers an open sunny position and a cool root run, doing well by concrete paths, rocks etc. 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 70 to 11 m, an annual temperature of 12 to 19°C, and pH of 5.6 to 6[269]. This species is essentially a xerophyte, flowering and setting seed on the last seasonal soil and stem moisture. It 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[269]. The seed contains about 24 - 30% of an oil that is potentially a good replacement for sperm whale oil. This species is being trialled as a possible commercial oil seed crop[269]. The sub-species L. alba versicolor has slightly higher oil yields, around 31%[269]. Experimentally, yields of 1 tonne of seed per hectare has been obtained, though these yields would need to be doubled to make the plant a commercial prospect[269]. Some new cultivars have been developed with better seed retention and higher oil yields[269]. A very good bee and hoverfly plant.

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Seed - sow spring or autumn in situ. Germination takes place within 3 weeks. Germination is better at lower temperatures - good results are achieved at about 5°C, whilst temperatures in excess of 20°C give poor results[269].

Other Names

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Limnanthes douglasiiPoached Egg Plant, Douglas' meadowfoam, Ornduff's meadowfoam00


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Hartw. ex Benth.

Botanical References


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Readers comment

   Apr 9 2013 12:00AM

'annual precipitation of 70 to 11 m' - I assume this is a mistake! Should it read '70 to 110 mm' or '70 to 1100 mm'?

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Subject : Limnanthes alba  
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