Located in the Western Mediterranean—most notably in an arid stretch of southwest Morocco—the argan tree projects the perfect image for a plant capable of reaching “senior citizen” status. Thorny with gnarled trunks, an argan stand of trees can reach the age of 200 years. Just as interesting, argan trees are a relic of the Tertiary Age (65 million to 2.6 million years ago). Overgrazing by domesticated goats has reduced the numbers and range of this fascinating tree, moving its status toward endangered.
What does it do?
Its age and archaic appearance notwithstanding, the argan tree bestows a youthful appearance to those who employ the oil extracted from its seeds to enhance the well-being of their skin and hair. This oil is rich in squalene—a natural organic compound made by all plants and animals (and people, too!)—which helps our skin retain its moisture. Because argan oil also has an appreciable amount of fatty acids and vitamin E, it has the effect of decreasing wrinkles and stretch marks, while soothing and softening the skin. Applied topically, argan oil penetrates deeply to deliver much-needed hydration to damaged skin. Brittle hair and nails are also rejuvenated by argan seed oil. Research is aimed at exploring the role of argan oil in lowering blood pressure.
About the herb
Rising 35 feet above the semi-desert floor of Morocco’s Sous valley, argan displays small oval leaves, along with flowers that appear in April. The five pale greenish-yellow petals that grace each bloom herald the approach of the tree’s valuable fruit—a hard nut containing one to three oil-rich seeds. The fruit matures slowly, taking over one year, and ripening in June or July of the following year. Berber tribeswomen work the seed-oil crop almost exclusively, and reforestation projects have been launched to assure that this ancient tree does not go by the way of the dodo and passenger pigeon.
The anti-aging effect that argan oil imparts to the skin is known worldwide in cosmetic industry circles. Follow the directions of any of the numerous products containing argan oil and see for yourself what marvelous treasures nature has created for our well-being. Available for massage, facials and general skin, hair and nail care. Possessing a nutty flavor, this edible oil is also used for dipping bread and to enhance the flavor and nutritional content of your favorite salad.