Argan trees are endemic to the Sous valley in southwestern Morocco with little to no presence outside this limited geographical area. The Argan forest shrunk by almost 50% over the last century due to grazing and overexploitation. Thankfully, the forest has since regained some of its health and grew back to its current 8,000 square kilometers. This gradual recovery may have been partially due to the fact that in 1998, the forest was declared an International Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The most significant factor behind its recovery, however, lies in the recent development of a commercial export market of Argan oil and the increased demand for Argan oil worldwide. As Argan Oil (Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil) gained in popularity worldwide, the profits enticed the local communities in and around the Argan forest to preserve and plant the rare tree.
Argan trees normally reach a height between 8 and 10 meters. Some trees live as long as 150 years, some live to be 200 or more. The Argan tree begins to bear fruit around age 5 and reaches its maximum production capacity 20 years later. The roots of the tree are able to withstand long periods of drought, helping protect against soil erosion and desertification. As a matter of fact, in many areas, Argan trees constitute the last standing barrier in the way of the Sahara desert.
Argan harvest is quite a season in the Sous valley! Villagers, women in particular, ceremoniously engage in the labor-intensive process of manually extracting the Argan nuts and the kernels. The kernels are then pressed in traditional oil mills or sent to be pressed in nearby plants.
In general, of every Argan tree, we are able to extract 10 kg of fruit per year. 35 kilograms are needed to produce 1 liter of pure Argan oil. It naturally follows that Argan is a precious commodity that comes with a price. The great news, though, is that the balance of its naturally occurring ingredients has a cosmetic value that is unequaled. Please check “the science behind Argan oil” section in the product description. You can also take a look at Corporels’ sustainability section to learn more about our sustainability efforts including in the preservation of the Argan forest.