Mastic tree: past, present, future, and its potential importance for Turkey

M. İsfendiyaroğlu
Mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus var. chia) is known as a dioecious evergreen small tree, belonging to the Sumac family (Anacardiaceae). It has long been cultivated only in the south part of the Greek island of Chios, in the Aegean Sea. Mastic tree is the unique source of mastic gum, which is obtained by injuring the trunk and branches of the tree. The history of mastic dates back to the 5th century B.C., i.e., to the time of Herodotus. Hippocrates, Dioscorides and Galen mentioned about the pharmaceutical properties of mastic. Pliny gave detailed information about the mastic in his book of “Naturalis Historiae”. Currently, about 140 t of mastic is being produced from 2,000,000 trees annually. The Chios Gum Mastic Growers Association having 4,850 members govern mastic production, processing, and trade. Mastic resin and mastic oil are widely used in medicine, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industry. However, some evidence showed that mastic tree was also cultivated in the adjacent western Anatolia in the past. Remnants of old plantations, particularly observed in former Greek Orthodox villages on the Çeşme Peninsula, pointed out the growing activities in the past. But probably lost its importance after the 1923 population exchange. Some efforts have been made on the protection, rehabilitation and propagation of the current genetic material since 1995. Also some experimental plots were established by some universities, related ministries and NGOs using different propagation methods in the last 20 years. In this paper, history and current status of mastic tree together with its development possibilities in Turkey are presented.
İsfendiyaroğlu, M. (2020). Mastic tree: past, present, future, and its potential importance for Turkey. Acta Hortic. 1287, 79-86
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1287.11
Pistacia lentiscus var. chia, gum mastic, history, Chios, Çeşme

Acta Horticulturae