Mastic Tree Information: Learn About Mastic Tree Care

Mastic Tree Information: Learn About Mastic Tree Care

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By: Teo Spengler

Many gardeners are not familiar with the mastic tree. What is a mastic tree? It’s a small to medium-size evergreen native to the Mediterranean region. Its branches are so limber and flexible that it’s sometimes called “the yoga tree”. If you are thinking of growing a mastic tree, you’ll find plenty of tips here to help you get started.

What is a Mastic Tree?

Mastic tree information describes the tree as a small evergreen in the Sumac family with a scientific name Pistacia lentiscus. It grows fairly slowly to a maximum of 25 feet tall (7.5 m.). Unfortunately for those with small gardens, this attractive tree has a spread even greater than its height. That means it can take up a lot of space in your backyard. However, it works well as a background screen tree.

You won’t be bowled over by the mastic tree flowers. They are inconspicuous. That being said, the tree develops clusters of mastic berries. Mastic berries are attractive small red fruits that mature to black.

Additional Mastic Tree Information

If you are thinking of growing a mastic tree, you’ll need to know that the tree prefers a warmer climate. It thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11.

Some of the most interesting facts you learn when you read up on mastic tree information concern the many uses for the tree’s gum. Gum mastic—raw mastic resin—is a high grade resin cultivated on the Greek island of Chios. This resin is used in chewing gum, perfume, and pharmaceuticals. It is also used in adhesives for dental caps.

Mastic Tree Care

Mastic tree care starts with proper placement. If you plan on growing a mastic tree, plant it in a full sun location. It also requires well-drained soil, and occasional deep irrigation is an important part of its care.

You’ll also need to prune this tree early in order to help it form a strong branch structure. Gardeners prune lower branches to elevate the base of the tree canopy. It’s also good to train the mastic to multiple stems. Don’t worry—the tree has no thorns.

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What Is A Mastic Tree - Growing A Mastic Tree In The Garden - garden

Underappreciated Desert Trees

by Judy Curtis,
Master Gardener

Question: I have a small yard. What are some suggestions for trees that won't get too large for the space?

How wise to consider the eventual size of the trees you are going to plant. Thinking ahead will avoid the expense of removing overgrown plants and repairing damage from invasive roots later on. Here are three trees that deserve more attention in our landscapes. They are all moderately fast growers to between 15 and 20 feet. Local nurseries can order them if they are not in stock.

Prosopis pubescens
A Sonoran native, the screwbean mesquite sports unique spiraled pods that are edible like those of its close relatives. Pods can also be soaked and used in outdoor grilling for flavor. This tree has yellow flowers that bloom in late spring. The feathery foliage is deciduous and it is both frost hardy and heat tolerant. It provides filtered shade in summer, allows sunlight to come in during winter, and is considered a relatively clean tree because of its small leaves. The wood has been highly prized in the past, and was used to make gunstocks during World War II.

Eysenhardtia orthocarpa
The common name, kidneywood, refers to its historic uses for medicinal purposes. It has fragrant white flowers that smell of vanilla and are attractive to butterflies. Also a Sonoran native, it will take full sun, reflected heat, poor soils, and cold weather. Depending on the winter temperatures, it is semi-evergreen to deciduous.

Pistachia lentiscus
This Asian import, known as the mastic tree, is evergreen and provides more shade than the other two. It has a long history leaf fossils from it have been dated back six million years. Its resin is used for chewing gum and perfumes, the small red fruits that turn black are ingredients in sweets in Asia, and the tannin is used to tan leather. It also withstands heat, drought, poor soils, and is hardy to about 20 degrees.

What Is A Mastic Tree - Growing A Mastic Tree In The Garden - garden

Hardiness zones
Sunset 8-9, 12-24
USDA 9-11

Landscape Use: Small- to medium-sized evergreen tree (with copious training), background screen

Form & Character: Stems and branches are amazingly limber and flexible. It is broadly spreading which limits its usefulness in small urban spaces, yoga tree.

Growth Habit: Woody, evergreen perennial small tree, moderately slow to 25 feet with greater spread.

Foliage/texture: Glabrous, leathery, pinnately compound foliage, 3 to 5 pairs of leaflets, 1 inch long, oblong to elliptic, petiole winged medium coarse texture.

Flowers & fruits: Inconspicuous flowers, clusters of small red fruits ripening to black.

Soil: Well drained, avoid caliche.

Watering: Give infrequent deep water to regular lawn watering conditions.

Pruning: Mastic tree is pruned and trained in many different ways depending on the intention of landscape use. For example, if the intent is to use mastic tree as a standard or multi-trunk small landscape tree, then it will demand much time to train into an upright arborescent habit and afterwards to maintain that habit of appearance over time. Sometimes however ' hort clods ' will "punt like it's 4th down and long" and decide it's just easier instead to aggressively shear it into some formal shape.

Additional comments: Mastic tree is the lesser known and least available of the pistache landscape tree species in the Phoenix area. Due to its spreading habit of growth, finding the "right" use, "right" location for this otherwise tough pistache species can be a real design challenge. In any regard, it WILL (though environmentally tough and tolerant) demand time and attention to train into and maintain the intended shape.

In my humble opinion, this tree is a bonafide botanical member of the 'Fantastic Four' with its flexible and bendable branches and stems.

Where do mastic trees grow?

Complete answer to this is here. Subsequently, one may also ask, how do you grow mastic trees?

Mastic tree care starts with proper placement. If you plan on growing a mastic tree, plant it in a full sun location. It also requires well-drained soil, and occasional deep irrigation is an important part of its care. You'll also need to prune this tree early in order to help it form a strong branch structure.

Secondly, can you eat mastic? You could -if you wish- swallow the mastic when you have finished chewing it. Just make sure you cut it in smaller pieces to avoid choking on a large mastic gum piece.

People also ask, what does a mastic tree look like?

Mastic TreePistacia lentiscus. Also known as Evergreen Pistache, this drought and heat tolerant plant features bright green, glossy leaves on smooth reddish branches. Mastic can be shaped into a small, rounded patio-sized tree or left unpruned to grow as a large, dense shrub.

How do you use Mastic in cooking?

Grind mastic a mortar and pestle and team it with either sugar or salt at a ratio of 1:10 (1 teaspoon of ground mastic powder to 10 teaspoons of sugar or salt) and use as your seasoning. With sugar, mastic works well in custards, panna cotta, tarts, ice-creams.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

The mastic tree had been in my yard for many years before I noticed it. Cradled next to a giant strangler fig, the trees’ high branches are mixed together in a very high canopy. Over the years, I realized it was a special tree that I should know more about. Mastic trees are high hammock trees native to Florida, attracting much wildlife and growing slowly to great size. The mastic tree, the hammock tree, the forgotten tree, the tree mindlessly chopped down in my hometown of Sewall’s Point…

There used to be a large mastic at the entrance to High Point at River Road. It was cut a few years ago in favor of pentas and mulch. A few months ago, I discovered another one on an empty lot located at about Ridgeview and River Roads. Covered in a thorny vine, few would notice the huge trunk covered in different colored fungi, like a piece of God’s art. Ancient and otherworldly. A reminder of days long past before non-native plants, floratam grass, fertilizers, and pesticides would replace a tangled forest and contribute to the death of the St Lucie River.

Just recently, my mastic dropped gooey, orange berries and the wildlife ate them with relish. I have been trying to grow the seeds, now wrinkled and brown, in my quest to bring my yard closer to what it was prior to development and help the river and soil, but the squirrels and raccoons raided my pots! Proud to outsmart my four-legged friends, I “ingeniously” figured out how to protect the seeds in an old aquarium. But just today, I learned that mastic trees are male and female. Dropping the orange seeds, I believe I have a female.

I am afraid I might have one of the last mastic trees in Sewall’s Point. She needs a companion if there is to be the return of the majestic mastic. We are calling your name…

Historic photo of Sewall’s Point’s once “tangled forest”: Andrews in Sewall’s Point Hammock, approaching a giant mastic tree, 1905. Courtesy Thurlow Archives, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

Watch the video: Wood turning mastic tree wood hollow form