Pistacia lentiscus

Accession Count: 7
Common Name: Mastic Tree
Family Name: Anacardiaceae
Botanical Name: Pistacia lentiscus
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Characteristics: This evergreen species grow either as an irregular shrub or as a short, single or multi-stemmed tree. It grows to heights of fifteen to twenty-five feet with an equal or greater spread. The crown is globular and dense. The trunk is reddish when young and turns gray when older. The leaves are pinnately compound, yellow-green when young, and dark green when older. It is not uncommon to see some reddening of the leaves at times. The leaves contain three to five pairs of one-inch leaflets. The leaflets have a winged petiole, smooth edges, and are oval shaped. The inconspicuous flowers form from February to May. The male flowers are dark red and the female ones are greenish in color. The rarely present berrylike fruit is red to black and forms on dense spikes.
Compound: Pis len
Geographic Origin: Mediterranean
Ecozone Origin: Palearctic
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Natural History: The species name means "flexible" or "sticky," referring to the gum (mastic) the tree is valued for.
Cultivation Notes: Well adapted for dry areas. One of the oldest known high-grade resin-producing varieties. Needs training and pruning to become a tree.
Ethnobotany: P. lentiscus is highly valued for its mastic. The mastic is used to make perfumes (Grasse is one popular brand), chewing gum, pharmaceuticals, dental adhesives, and varnishes for protecting pictures. The pleasantly fragrant shoots are cut and sold in the spring separately or as a part of bouquets.

Height: 16 - 20 feet
Width: 20 - 50 feet
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Spread: Non-spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
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Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Hardy
Water Use: Moderate Water Use

Citations:
  1. Jones, Warren D, and Charles M Sacamano. Landscape Plants for Dry Regions: More Than 600 Species from around the World. Fisher Books, 2000.
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Pistacia lentiscus