Sesame, an annual herb in the Pedaliaceae family (Sugano & Akimoto, 1993) (Figure 121.1), prefers a hot climate. It is a drought-resistant plant that gives its maximum yield when grown at 25—27°C. It takes about 125—135 days from planting to maturity. The large, bell-shaped flowers of the sesame are yellow, although they vary in color: some are blue and some are purple. Pollen grains of this family are 5-13-colpate and oblate-subprolate (van Haaster, 1990). Sesame can grow to over 2 m tall, although most varieties are 60—90 cm, depending upon growing conditions. Seed capsules are 2.5—3.5 cm long, with 8 rows of seeds in each capsule. Each kilogram of sesame contains approximately 33,000 seeds. Depending on the variety, sesame seeds vary in color (Figure 121.2). Sesame seeds contain a high percentage of oil — around 55% of their total mass.
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