Multi-branched perennial growing to 10 ft (3 m). Has small elliptical leathery leaves, clusters of reddish flowers, and round scarlet fruit that ripens to black.
Habitat & Cultivation
Mastic tree is native to the Mediterranean region. It grows wild in scrub and on wasteground and is cultivated for its resin, which is collected from incisions made in the bark in summer and autumn.
The resin contains alpha- and beta-masticoresins, a volatile oil (comprising mainly alpha-pinene), tannins, masticin, and mastic acid. Pinenes are strongly antiseptic.
History & Folklore
Mastic resin was used by the ancient Egyptians for embalming the dead.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
In the recent past, mastic resin was little used, but contemporary research indicates that this should be reconsidered. Traditionally mastic extracts have been taken for coughs and bronchitis, and applied to the skin for boils, sores, and ulcers. Recent studies point to the gum resin being useful in treating and preventing atheroma (fatty deposits in the arteries), to have anti-fungal and liver-protective activity, and to aid in conditions such as arthritis and gout.
The pistachio is produced by P. vera, also native to the Mediterranean region.