Essaouira Mogador is a town at the Atlantic coast of Morocco

En langue française


Argan tree

The Argan forests ( Arganerai ) was added to UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme in 1998 as a biospere reserve.

UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme was launched in 1971 with the aim of promoting interdisciplinary research, training, and communications in the field of ecosystem conservation and the rational use of natural resources. Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal marine
ecosystems which are internationally recognized under the MAB Programme. Biosphere Reserves are much more than
just protected areas as they are designed to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature.

They are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the States where they are situated.

The argan fruits

There are today many woman cooperatives producing and selling Arganoil which hopefully
will empower the women but also the owners of the overprized commercial argan centers along the roads promoting the "cooperatives".

Woman processes Argan nuts

Extraction Traditional method
The production of argan oil by traditional methods before modern times, the Berbers (also known as the Imazighen) of Morocco would collect undigested argan pits from the waste of goats which climb the trees to eat their fruit. The pits were then ground and pressed to make the nutty oil used in cooking and cosmetics. However, the oil used in cosmetic and culinary products available for sale today has most likely been harvested directly from the tree and processed with machines.


Extraction of the kernels is key to the argan oil production process.

In order to extract the kernels, the argan fruits are first dried in the open air and then the fleshy pulp of the fruit is removed. Sometimes the flesh is removed mechanically without the need to dry the fruits. The flesh is usually used as feed for animals.

The next stage involves cracking the argan nut to obtain the argan kernels. Attempts to mechanize this process have been unsuccessful and therefore it is still carried out by hand, making it a time-consuming and labour-intensive process.

Kernels used to make argan oil for food use, culinary argan oil, are then gently roasted. After the argan kernels have cooled down, they are ground and pressed. The brown-colored mash expels pure, unfiltered argan oil. After this, unfiltered argan oil is decanted into vessels. The press cake remaining after the argan oil has been expelled is protein-rich and is frequently used as feed for cattle.

Cosmetic argan oil is produced almost identically, although the argan kernels are not roasted to avoid an excessively nutty scent.

After pressing, the argan oil is decanted and left to rest for approximately two weeks. This allows solids suspended in the argan oil to settle to the bottom, creating a natural sediment. The clearer argan oil may then be further filtered depending on the clarity and degree of purity required. Pure argan oil may contain some sediment. This is a natural part of the production process and does not affect the quality of the argan oil.

Depending on the method of extraction and the original quality of the oil


May 10 is officially International Argan Day*


The Argan tree was used for its hard wood in house construction and it was also famous to make very good charcoal.


A goat in argan tree

The Argan seeds are favoured by goats and it is said it very healthy for them. They also help in the production of argan oil as the rest of the fruits (naturally prcessed) is collected in their spilling.

The Argan oil is by locals used for nutrition and traditional medicine but has also been used to fabricate soft soap - saboun baldi.

Today there is a great exploitation of the argan forests because of the cosmetic values of argan oil. It has also become very expensive. Not only because it is needed about 40 kg of raw fruits to extract 1 kg of oil and it takes about 8 hours of manual work, mostly by women. But also because the overheated tourist market and demand for export by global cosmetic factories.



Woman processes Argan nuts




The fruits

The fruits of the argan tree are nut-sizes and may be round, oval or conical in shape. The fruits are covered by a thick peel which covers the fleshy pulp. The pulp surrounds a hard-shelled nut which represents approximately 25% of the weight of the fresh fruit.

Contained within the nut are one to three argan oil-rich kernels. Argan oil is extracted from the kernels, with yields varying from 30% to 55% depending on the extraction method used.


 Reportage ARTE sur l'huile d'Argan, l'or blanc du Maroc.


Voyage au pays de l´argan 
Voyage au pays de l'argan


Prized for its anti-ageing properties, argan oil is used in cosmetics the world over. Its popularity is giving women who produce the oil in southwestern Morocco a much needed income.


The Argan (Argana Spinosa, Sideroxylon Spinosum Linné, Argania Shousboe, Eloedendron Argan)
It is an endemic species of the south west Moroccan tropical stump. Its population is characterised by huge ecological amplitude that starts from the sea level up to heights of about 1,400m above sea level and can grow on several geological substrata.
With regards to the species territorial limits the succession is as follows; the population of Argania comes in contact with that of Thuja which replaces Argania at higher altitudes. The Thuja is in turn replaced by the red Juniper within the continental zones.

The Argania forests are found in specific mono formation and quite often partially damaged.
The species is currently under pressure because it is being over grazed by domestic animals and faces other human influences such as wood collection and picking of fruits for oil extraction. Locally, the excessive graze by the goats, transformed the trees of Argania to “green rocks”.
The under wood of the some Argania forest has completely become extinct because of the reclamation undertaken by the population for cultural values. For this reason, the natural regeneration of the Argania forest is difficult also because it is solely
concentrated in the tropics.

"Actually, Argan trees are thorny (and not very decorative), which makes harvesting the fruit very hard. Thick skinned, thick lipped goats don’t care though, and climb the trees to eat the stuff. It digests the exocarp and mesocarp and poops the hard shell of the endocap. It’s then collected, washed and dried in the sun. The shells will have to be felled one by one to extract the seed inside, which is then either cooked and pressed to make edible oil, or pressed raw to make cosmetic oil.
However nowadays the fruits are harvested by hand, mainly to stop the goats from damaging the trees, a machine extracts the nuts, but the goats still enjoy the pulp and peels separately. I’m not sure, but the shells still have to be felled by hand though."

Xoussef • May 9th, 2011 • 11:28 am/

Old Argan tree

An old argan tree in Sidi Kauki

"Before modern times, the Berbers or Amazighen (indigenous people of Morocco) of this area would collect undigested argan pits from the waste of goats which climb the trees to eat their fruit. The pits were then ground and pressed to make the nutty oil used in cooking and cosmetics. However, the oil used in cosmetic and culinary products available for sale today has most likely been harvested and processed with machines in a verifiably clean and sanitary way.

The oil was sold in Moroccan markets even before the Phoenicians arrived, yet the hardy argan tree has been slowly disappearing. Overgrazing by goats and a growing, wood-hungry local population have whittled the number of surviving trees down to less than half of what it was 50 years ago."


Argan trees in the Haha territoriy wher the locals call it " the Tree of Iblis"

The Haha or Ihahan (in their own language) are a Berber people in the Western High Atlas in Morocco. They identify themselves as a tribe of the Shilha (Chleuh) people, and speak the Shilha language. Their region stretches along from the city of Essaouira south to the Souss Valley, mainly on the Atlantic coast. Their neighbours to the north are the Chiadma, who have a similar culture but are Arab speakers.

Read more about Haha Culture

Argan Bonsai Djebel Hadid

Argan Bonsai
Djebel Hadid

Old Argan tree

The old Argan tree in Ait Daoud

Big Argan tree

Stem of old big Argan tree


Postal stamp Argan oil

Extraction of Argan oil


Valuable nutritional and dermatological benefits of the Argan oil.

The oil contains Vitamin E, 80% essential fatty acids (omega-6), 45% oelic acid and 35% linoleic acid. Similar fat content as Olive oil.

Benifits of Argan oil
( from sellers of cosmetic products based on argan oil).

  • Antioxidant
  • Anticarcinogenic
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Reduces “bad” cholesterol levels
  • Improves Rheumatic and joint pain
  • Stimulates brain capability
  • Facilitates digestion
  • Strengthens hair and nails
  • Moisturizes and stimulates skin regeneration and oxygenation
  • Provides elasticity to skin
  • Anti wrinkle properties
  • Promotes cell renewal
  • Healing qualities for scars
  • Treats skin conditions such as: acne, eczema, pregnancy stretch-marks, burns, psoriasis, and chicken pox
  • Neutralizes free radicals


Argan cakes
Cakes baked from Argan - the black ones for feeding animals and the white ones for human skin treatment (like soap)

English links:






External Links


Argan Oil


The Berbers

Trees of Morocco