Argan, Argania spinosa, also known as Moroccan ironwood, is a thorny evergreen, nut bearing tree, native to semi-desert Quet Sous valley of south-western Morocco, between Essaouira and Agadir, and to the Algerian region of Tindouf in the western Mediterranean region. Argan trees grow up to 10 meters tall and capable of living for more than 200 years. The plant is a non-cultivated forest tree, in its native land, but when in cultivation it requires no special attention.
Argania spinosa has a stubby, often twisted and covered with knobs and knots trunk. Leaves are small, 2–4 cm long, oval and with a rounded apex. The Argan leaves have a high concentration of polyphenols, known for their anti-free radical properties and for the prevention of skin aging. Flowers are small, with five pale yellow-green petals.
Argan Fruit and Nuts
The fruit of the Argan tree is green with fleshy exterior similar to that of the olive but larger and rounder. Inside the fruit, there is a nut with an extremely hard shell, which in turn contains one, two or three almond-shaped kernels that contain highly esteemed oil (argan oil). Each nut has to be cracked open to remove the kernels. Seeds are pressed to obtain the expensive and highly useful oil in cooking and cosmetic industry, Fruit takes over a year to mature.
Argan oil is much like olive oil, slightly darker with a reddish tinge but with similar fat content. It can be used for cooking and is claimed to have various medicinal properties. It is rich in vitamin E, natural squalane, phytosterols and essential fatty acids.
Argan oil contains:
• 45% Oleic acid
• 28% Alpha-linolenic acid
• 13% Palmitic acid
• 6% Stearidonic acid
• 5% Linoleic acid
• 3% Myristic acid
Residue from the kernels, after oil extraction, a thick chocolate-colored paste called “amlou“, similar to that of peanut butter in flavor is commonly sweetened and served as a dip or spread at breakfast time.
Argania spinosa is the perfect plant for a harsh environment as it is highly tolerant and well adapted to extreme drought, high heat, and poor soil conditions. Argan trees serve a dual purpose, were they naturally grow; animal fodder oil production. Foliage and the fruit pulp is often used as food for farm animals.
Argan Propagation Methods
Plant propagation is by seed. The tree needs full sun and lime rich soil. The plant is considered to be a Tertiary relic species. Argania spinosa is a member of the family Sapotaceae the genus Argania.
Argan, Argania spinosa, Moroccan ironwood