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  Flora Wildflowers /  Lentisc, Mastic

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Lentisc, Mastic

Pistacia lentiscus     Fr: Lentisque; Pistachier lentisque

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The mastic tree, also known as the lentisc, is an evergreen shrub or tree, usually low and spreading but which can sometimes grow as high as 8 m.

Flower. The flowers grow in dense panicles or spikes. The anthers are dark red for male flowers and greenish for female.

Leaves. Dark green, leathery pinnate, and distinctive (especially from the Turpentine Tree) for the lack of an end leaflet. From 6-18 leaflets, oval and smooth-edged; rachis winged. The color of the yellowish-green leaves in our photos is common for the younger bushes.

Habitat. Garrigue, maquis, sandy soil and dry rocky slopes.

Fruit. Bright red to shiny black globose berries, 4-5 mm.

Practical. In the spring time, the lentisc shoots are cut and sold in local markets. They have a very fresh smell, and are used to support floral bouquets around Easter time.

The tree's resin, mastic, is used for chewing gum. The berries are sometimes used for making sweets or liqueurs. This tree was also the start of the Grasse perfume industry, now world famous: tannin from the lentisc was used to tan leather for gloves in the Grasse region, a trade that evolved into the perfume business.

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