Morocco Argan Tree, Goats Climbing Tree
Green gold, the gold of the Berbers …
Morocco Argan Tree: We knew yellow gold, blue gold, black gold… There is also green gold, a very precious product which the region of southwestern Morocco has “the monopoly”.
This is argan oil, a product extracted from the kernels of the fruits of the argan tree.
Second forest species in the country, the argan tree is a real providence for the inhabitants, especially in the hinterland.
It supports the livelihood of 3 million people in the region.
A very particular tree
The argan tree, Argania Spinoza (Linnaeus), belongs to the order of Ebenales and to the family of Sapotaceae. Its vernacular names are “L’arbre de fer”, “L’Olivier du Maroc” and “Argân” (in Berber). It is a thorn tree that lives longer than the olive tree and does not require any cultivation.
The argan tree is a specifically Moroccan thousand-year-old tree
It covers an area of more than 820,000 hectares, or 70% of the wooded area of the “South-West of Morocco” region, from Safi in the North, to the Saharan fringe of the South.
It grows in arid and semi-arid areas of southwestern Morocco.
Arbre endemic to the south of the country, it is found in a triangle between Essaouira, Marrakech and Agadir.
The geographical area of the argan tree is therefore very limited, almost unknown outside of southern Morocco (around 21 million trees).
The argan tree is very heat resistant and can withstand temperatures of up to 50 ° C.
It can reach 8 to 10 m in height.
Its trunk is often short, twisted, and gnarled, allowing goats to climb up its branches to feed on leaves and fruit. Its roots grow deep in search of water, helping to bind the soil and prevent erosion.
Its branches are thorny. Its leaves are alternate spatula-shaped or lanceolate, 2 to 3 cm long.
Its fruit is the size of a walnut, it is yellow-green sometimes streaked with red.
It is formed of a fleshy pericarp (or pulp) which covers the very hardcore (or nut).
The argan nut contains one to three albuminous and oily almonds containing up to 55% oil.
A multi-purpose tree
Each part or production of the argan tree is usable and is a source of income or food for the user.
Use of wood
The wood of the argan tree is a hard, resistant wood with a yellowish-white color.
It is a very good fuelwood.
It is also used in carpentry for the needs of the small family industry (doors, beams, poles, poles, etc.), and for the manufacture of household objects and agricultural instruments (plows, plows, locks, etc. …).
Use of the fruit
The fruit of the argan tree is a berry formed by a pulp and a stone in which the seeds are included.
These seeds are generally united and their number variable (from one to several per nucleus).
According to the shape and size, six types of fruits were distinguished: fusiform, oval, oval apiculate, drop, rounded, globular.
Fruit production varies according to the age of the tree, the density of the stand, the environment, and the rainfall.
The order of magnitude is 8kg per tree per year or 128,000 tonnes per year for the Moroccan argan grove.
The dimensions of the fruit vary from 17 to 30mm long and 10 to 17mm wide.
Its color is greenish before ripening, then it evolves towards yellow or light yellow-brown depending on the trees.
The production of the different components of the fruit for 100 kg of ripe fruit gives 60 kg of dry fruit including 30 kg of dry pulp and 30 kg of stones.
These 30 kg of stones give about 27 kg of hulls and 3 kg of almonds.
The fruit (in particular its pulp) and the leaves are used as fodder for goats and camels
[goats, sheep, etc., camels, dromedaries, Editor’s note]. Indeed, the argan tree is also nicknamed “the goat tree” because the latter is crazy about its fruits. They climb it with surprising ease, cling to the branches, settle there and taste its fruits. They actually eat only the pulp and discard the kernel which is then collected by the inhabitants to make oil for their own use.
MOROCCO: The story between the argan tree and the goat
Use of almonds
Almonds are used to make argan oil.
Use of the cake [
solid residues obtained after extracting the oil from the seeds or fruits of oleaginous plants, Editor’s note]
The cake is recovered and processed
for fattening cattle.
The history of the argan tree
tree dates from the Tertiary era
[-65.5 to -23.03 million years, Editor’s note] at the time when there was probably a connection between the Moroccan coast and the Canary Islands.
It would then have spread over a large part of Morocco then, in the Quaternary
[-2.4 and -1.5 million years ago, Editor’s note] , the argan tree would have been driven back to the southwest by the glacial invasion, this which would explain the current existence of some colonies towards Rabat (Khemisset region) and far north
near the Mediterranean coast in the Beni Snassen.
The argan forest extends today in arid and semi-arid areas of southwestern Morocco.
In 1515, John Leo Africanus (El Hassan bin Mohammed El Wazzani el Zagyati)
speaks Haha thorn trees that produce a fruit called “argan” from which is extracted an oil with a very bad odor used for food and lighting.
Morocco: new El Dorado? Argan with a thousand virtues
This product with a thousand virtues promotes, for example, well-being through massages.
Example at the Bains d’Ovronnaz, in the Helvetic Alps, with Jean-Jacques Descamps.
The argan grove, a world reserve in Morocco
The argan grove was recognized by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve in 1999 and the argan tree a world heritage.
Indeed, this resource constitutes a world reserve in Morocco where the argan tree plays a very important socio-economic and environmental role.
The argan grove not only provides pasture, food oil, and firewood, but it also provides subsistence for some three million rural people.
It thus makes it possible to stabilize the populations of the countryside and therefore to limit the phenomenon of the rural exodus (20 million working days per year).
The argan tree was considered for a long time as a social or rather family product, either by the fruit production source of extraction of argan oil, intended for the food of the rural populations of the sector of the argan tree or by its leaf production, consumed by tens of thousands of goats.
The argan tree plays an irreplaceable role in ecological balance.
Thanks to its powerful root system, it maintains the soils, maintains their fertility, and protects them against water and wind erosion which threatens much of Morocco with desertification.
A tree threatened today
The number of argan groves [plantations of argan trees, editor’s note] is in sharp decline both in surface area and in density.
Almost half of the forest area has disappeared and six hundred hectares are lost each year.
This extinction is mainly due to an ecological imbalance of human origin.