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Pistacia lentiscus - L.                
Common Name Mastic Tree - Pistachier Lentisque
Family Pistaciaceae
Synonyms Lentiscus massiliensis, Lentiscus vulgaris, Terebinthus lentiscus.
Known Hazards Small risk of diarrhoea in children. Avoid oral intake of essential oil [301].
Habitats Open woods and scrub on dry hillsides[50], usually by the coast[64].
Range Europe - Mediterranean.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun

Bloom Color: Green. Main Bloom Time: Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded, Spreading or horizontal.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of shrub
Pistacia lentiscus is an evergreen Shrub growing to 5 m (16ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.

USDA hardiness zone : 8-9

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Pistacia lentiscus Mastic Tree - Pistachier Lentisque
Pistacia lentiscus Mastic Tree - Pistachier Lentisque
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; South Wall. By.
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Oil;  Oil.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Gum;  Oil;  Oil.

A sweet liquorice-flavoured resin, called 'mastic', is obtained from incisions made into the bark of the trunk, but not into the wood[2, 11, 57, 64, 183]. The odour is agreeable and the taste mild and resinous, when chewed it becomes soft and so can easily be masticated[4]. It is chewed to strengthen the gums and as a breath sweetener and also used as a flavouring in puddings, sweets (including 'Turkish delight') cakes etc[2, 183]. It is also the basis of a Greek confectionery called 'masticha' and a liqueur called 'mastiche'[183, 238]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[2, 89, 105].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Analgesic;  Antitussive;  Carminative;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Odontalgic;  Sedative;  Stimulant.

Mastic was at one time greatly used in herbal medicine, the resin obtained from the tree (see below for more details) being used[4]. It is little used in modern herbalism though it could be employed as an expectorant for bronchial troubles and coughs and as a treatment for diarrhoea[254]. The resin is analgesic, antitussive, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, odontalgic, sedative and stimulant[4, 46, 218]. It is mixed with other substances and used as a temporary filling for carious teeth[4, 7, 254]. Internally it is used in the treatment of diarrhoea in children[4, 7] and externally it is applied to boils, ulcers, ringworm and muscular stiffness[238, 254].
Other Uses
Gum;  Microscope;  Oil;  Oil;  Resin;  Tannin.

The resin 'mastic' is obtained by making incisions in the bark (not the trunk) of the tree from mid summer to the autumn[238]. It can be dried and used as a powder, or distilled for oil and essence[238]. It is used in high grade varnishes, as a fixative in perfumes, tooth pastes, glue (especially for false beards), embalming, a temporary filling for teeth etc[7, 11, 46, 57, 64, 171, 200, 238]. It is used to seal the edges of microscope mounts and is also chewed to preserve the teeth and gums[64]. An oil obtained from the seed is used for lighting, soap making etc[7, 89]. The leaves contain up to 19% tannin, they are often used as an adulterant of sumac, Rhus coriaria[223].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Erosion control, Screen, Specimen. Succeeds in any ordinary garden soil[1, 11], preferring a hot dry position in full sun[166]. Prefers a well-drained to dry sandy or stony alkaline soil[238]. This species is not very hardy in Britain. It normally requires the protection of a south-facing wall[11, 200] but can succeed in a hot dry position in the milder areas of the country[166]. The mastic tree is cultivated in southern Europe for its resin[46]. It is a very variable plant, a form with broad leaves yielding the best resin[64]. It is likely to need long hot and dry summers in order to yield its resin, and so is unlikely to produce it very freely in Britain. Any pruning that needs to be done is best carried out in the spring[238]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features:Not North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.
Pre-soak the seed for 16 hours in alkalized water[78], or for 3 - 4 days in warm water[1], and sow late winter in a cold frame or greenhouse[78, 113]. Two months cold stratification may speed up germination, so it might be better to sow the seed in early winter[113]. The germination is variable and can be slow. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow on the plants for at least their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out into their permanent positions in early summer and consider giving some protection from winter cold for their first year or two outdoors[K]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood from juvenile trees, July in a frame[113]. Layering.
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[50]? Flora Europaea
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
[57]Schery. R. W. Plants for Man.
Fairly readable but not very comprehensive. Deals with plants from around the world.
[64]Howes. F. N. Vegetable Gums and Resins.
A very good book dealing with the subject in a readable way.
[78]Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
[89]Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean.
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[113]Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
[166]Taylor. J. The Milder Garden.
A good book on plants that you didn't know could be grown outdoors in Britain.
[171]Hill. A. F. Economic Botany.
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some a bit of detail about the plants it does cover.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[223]Rottsieper. E.H.W. Vegetable Tannins
A fairly detailed treatise on the major sources of vegetable tannins.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
[301]Karalliedde. L. and Gawarammana. I. Traditional Herbal Medicines
A guide to the safer use of herbal medicines.

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Subject : Pistacia lentiscus  

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