Morocco goats climbing Argan tree: Goats in trees

Morocco Argan Tree

Morocco goat climbing tree, Morocco argan tree: we were familiar with yellow gold, blue gold, black gold, and so on. There is also “green gold,” a very precious product, over which the region of southwestern Morocco has “the monopoly.” This is argan oil, which comes from the seeds of the argan tree’s fruit. The second forest species in the country, the argan tree, is a real blessing 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 Ebenales and to the family 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 is endemic to the south of the country, it is found in a triangle between Essaouira, Marrakech and Agadir. Because of this, the argan tree only grows in a small area, mostly in southern Morocco, where there are about 21 million of them.

Green gold, the gold of the Berbers …

The argan tree is very heat resistant and can withstand temperatures of up to 50 ° C.
It can reach 8 to 10 meters in height. Its trunk is often short, twisted, and gnarled,  allowing goats to climb up its branches to feed on leaves and fruit. Roots grow deep in search of water, helping to bind the soil and prevent erosion.

Branches are thorny. Leaves are alternately spatula-shaped or lanceolate, 2 to 3 cm long. The fruit is the size of a walnut, it is yellow-green and sometimes streaked with red. It is formed of a fleshy pericarp (or pulp) that covers the very hard core (or nut). The argan nut contains one to three albuminous and oily almonds containing up to 55% oil.

Morocco goats climbing tree

A multi-purpose tree

Every part or product of the argan tree can be used and can be used to make money or feed people.

Use of wood

The wood of the argan tree is hard and resistant, with a yellowish-white color.
It is very good fuelwood. It is also used in carpentry for the needs of the small family industry (doors, beams, 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 is variable (from one to several per nucleus).
According to shape and size, six types of fruits were distinguished: fusiform, oval, oval apiculate, drop, rounded, and globular.

Fruit production depends on how old the tree is, how dense the stand is, the weather, and the amount of rain.
The order of magnitude is 8kg per tree per year, or 128,000 metric tons 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. Indeed, the argan tree is also nicknamed “the goat tree” because it 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

The argan tree dates from the Tertiary era [65.5 to 23.03 million years ago], at a time when there was probably a connection between the Moroccan coast and the Canary Islands. Then, it would have spread over a large part of Morocco. When glaciers moved in during the Quaternary, they would have pushed the argan tree back to the southwest, which is why there are still some colonies near Rabat (in the Khemisset region) and far to the north near the Mediterranean coast in the Beni Snassen.

Today, the argan forest can be found in arid and semi-arid areas of southwestern Morocco. In 1515, John Leo Africanus (El Hassan bin Mohammed El Wazzani el Zagyati) speaks of 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

In 1999, UNESCO named the argan tree a World Heritage Site and the argan grove a Biosphere Reserve. check our 3 days desert tour from Marrakech to Fes In fact, this resource is a world reserve in Morocco, where the argan tree plays a huge role in the economy and the environment.

The argan grove not only provides pasture, food oil, and firewood, but it also provides subsistence for some three million rural people. It makes it possible to keep the number of people living in the countryside stable and, as a result, to stop the rural exodus (20 million working days per year). Tours in Morocco to see Argan tree and goats climbing trees

For a long time, the argan tree was considered a social or rather family product, either through its fruit production as a source of extraction of argan oil, intended for the food of the argan tree’s sector’s rural populations, or through its leaf production, consumed by tens of thousands of goats.

The argan tree plays an irreplaceable role in ecological balance. Its strong root system keeps the soils healthy and keeps them fertile. It also protects them from water and wind erosion, which threatens to turn much of Morocco into a desert.

A tree is 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.

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