Pistacia terebinthus

Turpentine tree                                                                                   Κοκκορεβιθιά
Anacardiaceae - cashew family                                                                         Dicot

Much less common on Skopelos than P. lenticus, the closely related, turpentine tree usually occurs as a large shrub or small tree as part of the complex mix of vegetation which makes up the Macchie. It is most common in the Karya Valley. The scientific species name comes from the ancient greek, tereminthos (τέρεμινθος).

The branches are more open than P. lenticus. The leaves are composite with 3-6 pairs of opposite leaflets and a single terminal leaflet. The plants are, like all members of the pistachia family, are dioeious, tht is the male and female flowers are on separate trees. The male flowers have  attractive feathery structure and become bright red, appearing in spring amongst the fronds of new pink tinged foliage. The autumn berries are in open bunches , they are red at first and turn black when mature.




 Turpentine oil used for thinning paints, was manufactured by distillation of resin from pine trees. The name of the spirit, however, comes form the turpentine tree, Pistacia terebinthus, which was the earliest source of turpentine.  The gum was collected by making a gash in the bark of the tree.

There is evidence that it was traded as far back as the Bronze Age. A large quantity (a metric ton) of resin was found packed into Canaanite jars in the famous Uluburun shipwreck, found in 1982 off the coast of Asia Minor.1 The resin of Pistacia terebinthus was identified and it is thought that it was used for perfume production.

The wreck has been dated as 14th Century B.C. and is now displayed in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. Other findings included: copper and silver ingots; bronze age tools and weapons; clay lamps; foods: acorns, almonds, figs, olives and pomegranates; the gums of ferula, styrax and shumach;  sumach seeds and an ostrich egg. 2

1.Laurence M V Totelin. Hippocratic recipes : oral and written transmission of pharmacological knowledge in fifth- and fourth-century Greece. Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2009.

2. Tony Marcieniec. The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archeology. 1999. Bodrum.




The tender, pinkish, new shoots of Pistacia terebinthus are picked by the Skopelites in springtime; they are boiled and pickled in vinegar to make tsitsirafla.

This traditional metze, has an unusual, interesting flavour; it is drizzled with olive oil and served as a nibble with the pungent local spirit, tsipouro.

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