Emblematic tree of the regions of Souss and Tindouf (southwest Morocco and Algeria), the argan tree has always attracted the interest of botanists.
Belonging to the family of the Sapotaceae, the argan tree, whose fruit is called “argan”, grows in regions with variable rainfall.
From temperate to sub-humid and semi-arid cold zones, argan is not very demanding on water, it resists high temperatures (50°C) and adapts easily to all types of soil except those with moving sand.
A true ecological asset, argan is also true for its nutritional, cosmetic and medicinal properties.
Argan: history and traditions
The history of the argan would go back to the tertiary era. A xero-thermophilic species, this plant endemic to Morocco, whose scientific name is “Argania Spinosa”, would probably have existed when the Moroccan coast and the Canary Islands were one.
Later, the argan groves would have extended along the Mediterranean coast and other bordering territories, up to the gates of the Sahara desert.
To light their lanterns, the Phoenicians would have been the first to use the oil extracted from the argan. Later, it was the turn of the Berbers to use it for culinary and cosmetic purposes and even – as a sign of hospitality – accompanied by tea and honey.
Considered mythical and sacred, the argan tree is both a “gift from God” – because it is revered by the Berbers for its medicinal properties – and “Satan” when it is a source of conflict of use.
About the argan tree
Endemic Moroccan tree still called “argan”, “ironwood” or “argan”, the argan tree can reach a height of 8 to 10 meters. It is characterized by..:
- thorny twigs,
- a round and wide top,
- Dark green leaves with a hard stem that can live up to 200 years,
- a relatively short, twisted and knotty trunk with a very hard wood,
- greenish yellow or white flowers,
- fleshy oval fruits of yellow-brown color (when ripe), containing a very hard nut; it houses 2 to 3 “almonds” itself.
However, it is the virtues of the oil extracted from the fruits of the argan tree that make its reputation.
Argan oil: therapeutic properties and benefits
Produced by the cold press of the “almonds”, argan oil is qualified as “green gold” by the Berbers for its biological, pharmacological, dietetic and cosmetic virtues.
Also called “argan oil”, this extract of the fruit of the argan tree with almond and hazelnut flavor is precious in the culinary art. Very nutritious, this oil of dark color (because it is toasted), enhances the flavor and perfumes the dishes.
In addition, the vitamins (A,C,E), the nutritional and chemical compounds contained in this “oil with 100 virtues“, make it a food with unparalleled antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
The polyphenols, scottenol and carotenes it contains, prevent the risk of cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure…), the development of certain cancers (specifically prostate cancer), and reduce bad cholesterol.
Due to its fatty acid content (omega 6, omega 9), the oil of the “woman’s tree” has cosmetic virtues that Berbers have used for thousands of years to protect their hair and skin from the sun, strong winds and other external aggressions.
Very nourishing, its anti-aging properties have been recognized to activate cell regeneration and treat skin problems (dry skin, acne, chapped skin, chickenpox, eczema).
Pure or mixed with a cream, argan cosmetic oil, whose action is soothing and healing, is applied to the skin (to soothe burns or irritations), to the nails (brittle, split or soft), and even to damaged hair.
True appetite suppressant, argan oil consumed in the morning is indicated in cases of obesity.
It is good to know about argan oil
Argan cosmetic oil is clear and odorless.
Trees, on the other hand, promote desertification. Their nutritious seeds and shade ensure an ecological balance for the region’s fauna and flora.
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