Species list


Pistacia lentiscus


Mastic (Eng), lentisco, charneca, almáciga (Spa), mata, llentiscle, lentisc (Cat), legeltxor, legeltxorra (Baq), almecegueira, arceira, lentisco (Glg), aroeira, lentisco-verdadeiro (Por).


DID YOU KNOW...? The resin of the mastic tree has been used as chewing gum since the times of ancient Greece.


The mastic is a branching shrub that attains the form of small tree up to 7-8 m tall. Its mature bark is greyish, but on the branches and young trees it is greenish or reddish in colour. Its leaves are leathery and persistent, unlike its close relative the terebinth (Pistacia terebinthus), where they are deciduous. They are also hairless and compound with 2-7 pairs of leaflets (even-pinnate). The leaves are arranged alternately on the branches, while the leaflets are more or less opposite along the leaf stalk, which has small lateral wing-like expansions. The leaflets also have an entire margin, are elliptical or lanceolate, shiny, dark on the upper side, somewhat lighter on the underside and, often, terminate in a soft tip. The flowers are greenish or reddish. The fruit are globose, 3.5-5 mm in diameter, not very fleshy and red at first, becoming black when ripe.


This is a Mediterranean plant which forms thickets in groves of holm and kermes oaks, olive trees, and other woodlands with a similar ecology, provided that there are no strong frosts and the winters are fairly mild. It is indifferent to soil type and grows from sea level up to altitudes of around 1100 m.


The mastic is found throughout the Mediterranean area and in the Canary Islands. In the Balearics it is abundant on all the bigger islands, while on the Iberian Peninsula it is frequent in the east and south.