Known as the « Tree of Life », the Argan tree (Argania Spinosa) is a spiny tree that grows exclusively in the south-west of Morocco on the Souss Plain, where there are 21 million trees covering more than 800,000 hectares.
The Argan tree
The Argan tree can reach a height of between 8 and 10 meters and some have been known to live as long as 200 years. This endemic species begins to bear fruit around age 5, and reaches its maximum production capacity after 20 years. The root system extends to a considerable depth, which helps to protect against soil erosion and hold back encroachment by the Sahara Desert.
The tree bears flowers and fruit:
An ancestral tradition
The harvest of Argan fruit is a Berber tradition for women only. The techniques of Argan oil extraction are based on traditional knowledge that has been passed from mother to daughter within families down the centuries. The result is a miracle oil, which finally found its way across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe and the rest of the world a few years ago.
Between June and August, the women harvest the ripe fruit that has fallen onto the ground, and dry those several weeks in the sun. They retrieve the nut, deemed to be sixteen times stronger than hazelnuts, which they crack between two stones in order to obtain the precious, oil-rich kernels.
A miraculous oil
Argan oil has always been used by the Berbers of the Atlas Mountains as protection from the harsh climatic conditions (strong winds and burning sun).
This oil, very popular in the cosmetic industry, is used by many laboratories in their ranges for skin, body and hair care, as well as massage products. In fact, Argan oil‘s chemical composition gives it many cosmetics properties. Its content of oleic acid softens and soothes the skin while giving it shine, whereas its linoleic acid content, an essential fatty acid, gives it hydrating properties.