The fruits are a little bigger than an olive and they consist of an outer skin that covers a pulp which surrounds the nut in the centre. The nut kernel can contain up to three nuts and it is here where the argan oil is contained, up to sixty percent.
The argan tree is known to the Berber people as the tree of life due to its ability to survive long spells of heat & drought and because it can sustain the life of many creatures in such conditions. The tree can handle poor soil and little rainfall, needing only about four to eight inches. It goes into a relatively dormant state during the dry periods and revives when the rain returns. Its roots reach deep down into the ground to seek out water and moisture.
The argan tree is found mainly in the south west regions of Morocco close to the Atlas mountains. An astonishing sight that can be found around Essaouira is the goats that can be seen in the argan trees. Amazingly, the goats manage to climb the twisted branches in search of the argan fruit which they feed on. Historically, these goats were once part of the production process of obtaining the argan oil. The Berber people would collect the nuts which were not eaten or digested by the goats, that were then cleaned and pressed.
The increasing demand in recent years for argan oil, primarily by the beauty industry, from outsiders has uncovered the steady decline of the Argan tree. It has seen a reduction in numbers due to deforestation and exploitation for industrial purposes. Because of this, many programs have now been set up to repopulate the argan area, with many commercial growers outside of Morocco.