Thursday, March 10, 2011

Argania spinosa

The Argania spinosa tree at the UC Botanical Garden is only a couple of feet high, but in Morocco where it is native, it can grow up to 30' high. The nuts of this tree produce a highly prized oil, but it is difficult to extract because the nut is so very hard. So, for hundreds of years, people have used the easy way. They let their goats climb the trees (!) and eat the nuts. The outer fleshy portion is digested, and the hard layer protecting the nut is softened. Then the humans collect the nuts from the dung (!!) and pound them between two rocks to extract the oil. This is a slow laborious process that the goats make a little bit easier. Traditionally, the oil is used in cooking, cosmetics and for treating diseases. And, as you can see from the advertisement, you can now buy hair conditioner with argan oil: Organix Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil is available at your local Walgreen's. Looking at the ad, one would think that the argan oil is the main ingredient. But it is ninth on the list, after "parfum," so I am guessing that there is little actual argan oil in the bottle. It is too expensive!

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