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 resinous, aromatic shrub or tree that is very branching and can be up to 7-8 m tall and a little stunted-looking. Its mature bark is greyish, but on the branches and in young trees it is greenish or reddish in colour. The leaves are persistent, leathery, hairless, and composed of 2-7 pairs of leaflets (even-pinnate), unlike its relative, the Mount Atlas mastic (Pistacia altantica), which has an uneven number of deciduous leaflets. The leaves are alternate on the branches, while the leaflets are more or less opposite along the leaf stalk, which often 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. At the start of spring, small, greenish or reddish flowers appear that are grouped into narrow clusters 2-5 cm long, with short stalks. The fruits are globose, 4-7 mm in diameter, and not very fleshy. They are green at first, becoming black when ripe.


The mastic is a component of thethermophilous forests. It is often associated with species of olive trees, but it can also form dense groups giving rise to true mastic groves, known locally as lentiscales, where it is the dominant species. It grows preferentially between altitudes of 200 and 600 m, in sunny spots on north- and northwest-facing slopes, in any soil type, even in very poor, stony, arid and dry substrates.


This plant is not exclusive to the Canary Islands, since it is distributed throughout the Mediterranean region. In the Canaries, the mastic can be found on La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.