The Argan (Argania spinosa) is a species of tree that can develop in harsh environments and survive heat, drought, and poor soil. It is little known outside of Morocco and only grows in the south-west of the country between Essaouira and Agadir. It is the sole species in the genus Argania.


Argan grows up to 10 metres high and lives up to 150-200 years. The trunk of the argan is often twisted and gnarled, allowing goats to feed on its leaves and fruit. The green fruit is larger and rounder than an olive, and contains a nut with an extremely hard shell that will contain one, two, or three almond-shaped kernels rich in oil. The fruit takes over a year to mature and the tree requires no cultivation.

Argan_1.jpgPlantation of Argans in Morocco

Scientific classification
Roem. & Schult.[1]
A. spinosa

Plant Family

Argan is part of the family of flowering plants known as Sapotaceae. The family includes approximately 800 species of evergreen trees and shrubs, including many species that produce edible fruits. The species are often characterized by the presence of reddish-brown hairs on the leaf undersides and other plant surfaces. The flowers are bisexual and actinomorphic, and are found in all tropical regions around the world.

Use and Efficacy

Argan oil is made from the nuts of the Argan tree and is said to have restorative and age-defying effects. It is valued for its nutritive, cosmetic, and numerous medicinal properties. The species Argania is now endangered because of the demand for the oil produced from its nuts, and is now under the proctection of UNESCO. Producing one litre of oil takes 20 hours of work and currently is processed using machines. Households that make their own Argan oil use it primarily for cooking and even flavouring salads. But the oil is high in Vitamin E and essential fatty acids, and is believed to help all sorts of skin conditions such as dry skin, acne, psoriasis, and wrinkles. The oil is primarily produced by women and its bottles are sold alongside the roads of Morocco, as well as in stores in other countries including the United States and France.

Pic.jpg The process of extracting Argan oil by traditional methods.

Side-effects or Possible Drug Interaction?

Dermatologists recommend Argan oil for skin because it is natural and lacks any harmful ingredients that other cosmetic oils have. The oil is applied on the skin and so does not interfere with any internal drugs.