LENTISK OR MASTIC TREE
An evergreen shrub or small tree with dark green leathery
leaves. Whole plant has strongly acrid resinous smell. Flowers are
catkin like, and appear between February and May. The fruit is a red then
black pea-sized berry.
Found growing abundantly all over the Island from sea-level to
2,000 ft on sand dunes, dry rocky slopes and hillsides and in lowland
pine forests. Common member of maquis community.
Uses and Properties
Mastic, used as a chewing gum for sweetening the breath
and preserving the gums since classical times, is the resin of this
plant. An oil used for illumination and cookery is produced from the
berries in Arab countries, and is also used in making "Masticha", a popular
sweetmeat and "Mastiche", a liqueur. In Cyprus, the fruits are used in
sausage making and the leaves and stems are burned to smoke meats. The
Lentisk is probably the balm of Genesis.