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The Tree of Life


In south-western Morocco, argan trees are an invaluable resource to local tribes. But why are they full of goats?


Goats do not usually climb trees. But Morocco’s argan forest contains something so tasty that neither animals nor humans are capable of holding back. Alongside tasty leaves, the trees feature dry fruits of similar size to olives. For goats they are delicious food. For humans they contain the resource behind the world’s most expensive edible oil.

Argan trees are endemic to south-western Morocco. They can become 200 years old and grow between eight and ten metres tall. For centuries they have resisted north-African heat. Their branches are thorny, rough and twisted. They are crucial to the ecosystem and their deep and strong roots have halted Saharan desertification from the east.

The Berber people here have long depended on argan trees. They provide firewood and charcoal for heating. According to researchers, nearly 90 per cent of the regional rural economy is based on the trees in some capacity. However, the most precious resource is the sought-after argan oil, produced from the trees’ dry fruits. Continue Reading…