Introduction

Euphorbia antisyphilitica is a native of Mexico, the southwestern United States, and Central America—Purseglove (1968, p. 139).  Its common name is “candelilla.”  Its species name was given to it by Zuccarini who originally described the shrub in 1829 after having learned that its milky latex had been used widely in Mexico to fight venereal disease—Hodge and Sineath (1956, p. 136).  The Creator may have programmed certain plants to yield biochemicals that assist in treating diverse aliments.  The tranquilizer industry, for example, was born when pharmacognocists seriously studied the Rauwalfia serpentine plant from which people of India for generations had made a tea that calms the emotions.  The possible use of candelilla latex sap as a source of drugs against sexually transmitted diseases deserves a second look.

Of even greater interest in demonstrating God’s providence is the fact that the candelilla stems exude a useful wax—(Hodge and Sineath 1956) and Hodge (1955).  Arising in crowded clusters, these slender stems are leafless and resemble a little candle as in the common name, “candelilla,” see Figures 1 and 2 (Cover photographs A and B).  The stems are covered with wax (Figures 3 and 4) which can be removed with a razor blade as seen in Figures 5 and 6.

Candelilla wax is the basis of a migratory industry in Texas and Mexico—Maxwell (1968, pp. 95-99).  Donkeys transport the harvested stems to camp where the wax is extracted using portable equipment.  The itinerate harvesting of these shrubs had led to the depletion of candelilla; see Hodge (1955, p. 102).  The stems are boiled in large water vats to which sulfuric acid is added—usher (1974, p. 245), Correll and Johnston (1970, p. 965), and Hodge and Sineath (1956).  The wax floats to the surface and is skimmed off for further processing and purification.  There is about a 3.5% to 5% yield of wax which in 1956 sold for 70 cents per pound—Hodge and Sineath (1956) and Krochmal et al. (1954, p. 6).  The wax consists of hydrocarbon molecules with chains from 17 to 25 carbon atoms in length, as reported by Balandrin (1984, p. 129).

Refined candelilla was fins many uses including the manufacture of waterproof boxes, waterproof fabrics and sealing wax—Roecklein, (1987, p. 113), Usher (1974, p. 245).  When mixed with rubber it si used to make electrical insulators and dental molds.  Candles can be made from a mixture of candelilla wax and paraffin.  It is also an extender for carnuba wax in producing polishing compounds.  Certain factors, including financial constraints, militate against producing candelilla shrubs agriculturally—Hodge and Sineath (1956, p. 154).  Yet we believe the possible cultivation of this plant on semi-arid lands warrant further study….

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