Pistacia Lentiscus – Mastic Tree
The pistacias are members of the Anacardiaceae or Mango family. There are 11 different varieties of pistacia some deciduous and others evergreen. Various varieties are native to the Mediterranean, Central Asia, Malaysia, Japan, Europe and Mexico.
Pistacia chinensis (Chinese mastic tree): Frequently used in landscape schemes this tree is native to central and western China. In spring it has sweet smelling red flowers and in autumn its leaves turn red before dropping.
Pistacia atlantica: Found in western Anatolia and locally known as ‘mine琠this is a big showy tree. Its young shoots are used as vegetables.
Pistacia terebinthus: Native to eastern Mediterranean countries this is a deciduous tree. A form of turpentine is made from the sap of the tree. Turpentine is also extracted from pine trees. It is used in paint and varnish factories as well as other forms of manufacturing. The tree has greenish flowers which open between April and June and it grows to anywhere between 2 – 6m in height. Its fruits start off red in colour then turn brown and resin from these fruits produces both stable and volatile oils.
Villagers call this tree ‘menengi琠and folk medicine uses its leaves for their antiseptic properties, in treatment of peptic ulcers and also for the relief of sunburn. The fruits are used as a diuretic and an expectorant.
Pistacia lentiscus (Mastic tree): Native to the Mediterranean region and sometimes called the ‘green pistacia’. It is an evergreen and can be a large shrub or a small tree with a single trunk, or multiple trunks. It can grow to 5m in height.
From cuts in the trunk a scented liquid called ‘mastic’ is collected. This is claimed to ‘cleanse’ the mouth and is used in medicines. It is also used to scent cakes, jams and ice creams.
Pistacia lentiscus var. latifolius A variety only found on Sakiz Island and along the ƥşme peninsula. It can grow to 10m in height and is evergreen. Cutting the branches of this tree produces Mastic Drops which are used to cure stomach aches or diarrhea by villagers.