The argan tree (Argania sideroxylon, sapotaceae), a desert source of edible oil
- Cite this article as:
- Morton, J.F. & Voss, G.L. Econ Bot (1987) 41: 221. doi:10.1007/BF02858970
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The argan tree, Argania sideroxylon Roem. & Schult. (A. spinosa (L.) Maire), of the family Sapotaceae, essential to the dwellers of southwestern Morocco and long admired by explorers and travelers, has remained little known to botanists and horticulturists outside its natural area. It is slow growing and long lived on calcareous soil. The young seedlings furnish almost the only forage for goats and other herbivores during several months of the year and the animals relish the flesh of the abundant fruits. The ejected seeds yield a yellow oil commonly consumed as human food. Among its constituents are four sterols, two methylsterols, and five triterpenic alcohols. The wood is hard, prized locally, and much used for fuel. Excessive exploitation of the tree has stimulated local moves toward conservation and cultivation. Argan seedlings are being grown experimentally at the U.S.D.A. Subtropical Horticulture Research Unit, Miami, and by Victor Wynne in Haiti, with a view to trial in semi- arid regions of near- Mediterranean climate. In English greenhouse culture, vegetative propagation has been achieved by cuttings and layers.