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  • Author or Editor: Vered Irijimovich x
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Argan is a wild tree native to southwestern Morocco, appreciated for its edible, high nutritional oil, extracted from the kernels of the drupe-like fruit. Aspects of its reproductive biology were studied with the aim to domesticate argan as an oil crop. Flowering of fertigated trees cultivated in the Negev Highlands of Israel was confined to the spring months. The flowers were found to be protogynous, the stigma protruding from the flower before anthesis. Stigma receptivity at the pre-anthesis phase was a third of that at anthesis. Results of different pollination treatments showed that a pollen vector was necessary for pollination and that fruit set was significantly higher in cross and open pollination (7% to 9%) than in self pollination (0.5%). Since in-vivo pollen germination and pollen tube growth in the pistil were similar for foreign and self pollen, the lower fruit set obtained in self pollination may have been related to postzygotic discrimination. Pollen transfer by wind was restricted to short distances, and flies (family Calliphoridae), were proven to be involved in pollination. In contrast with stands in argan's native habitat, where fruit growth is inhibited in summer, fruits of the cultivated trees grew continuously throughout the summer. The pattern of growth of fruit fresh weight was similar to that shown for typical fleshy drupaceous fruits, with an initial and a final phase of rapid growth interrupted by a phase of slow growth.

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