pistacia terebinthus


Pistacia is a genus of ten species in the family Anacardiaceae, native to the Canary Islands, northwest Africa, southern Europe, central and eastern Asia, and North America (Mexico, Texas). They are shrubs and small trees growing to 5-15 m tall. The leaves are alternate, pinnately compound, and can be either evergreen or deciduous depending on species. All species are dioecious. The genus is estimated to be about 80 million years old.

Cultivation and uses

Pistacia vera, a small tree, is grown for its edible seeds (see Pistachio). The seeds of the other species were also eaten in prehistory, but are too small to have commercial value today. Records of Pistacia from pre-classical archaeological sites, and mentions in pre-classical texts, always refer to one of these other species (often P. terebinthus).

Pistacia terebinthus, a native of the eastern Mediterranean countries, is tapped for turpentine (see Terebinth).

Pistacia lentiscus, an evergreen shrub or small tree of the Mediterranean region, supplies a resin (see Mastic).

Pistacia chinensis is grown as an ornamental tree, valued for its bright red autumn leaf colour; it is also the most frost-tolerant species in the genus (see Chinese Pistache).

Pistacia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Emperor Moth.

Other species


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