Terebinth Tree

Terebinth Tree / Pistacia palaestina / بطم فلسطيني

Picture Resource: Copyrights reserved by Pavel Buršík

Status: Common

The terebinth is a deciduous, unisexual shrub that can develop into a full-sized tree with a height from 2-8 meters, particularly when considered sacred, and it is protected from foraging.

It is a component of the wooded  mountainous areas along with the Palestine oak and may be found near a Mt. Atlas mastic tree there.

It colors the landscape with shades of red in the winter as the leaves wither and fall, and in the spring as the leaves bud. The gall of this species is large and shaped like a banana. The tree was considered sacred by local cultures, which saved it from deforestation in certain periods.

The flower is a cluster of dense racemes of tiny flowers with either a red stigma or 3-7 stamens which give the additional color to the tree. The male flower is a three –five lobed calyx whereas the female flower consists of 2-5 sepals. The exposure of the stigma and stamens enhance the pollination by wind. The ovary is superior.

Flowering period: The terebinth flowers in March-April. The female tree produces fruit which ripen to a purple color, in the months of September-December, if fertilized. The sterile drupes remain red in color. The fruit is a single-seeded 5 mm in diameter spherical drupe. The edible seeds are dispersed by birds.

Ecology: It is found in Mediterranean woods in mountainous terrain.

Common and medicinal uses: The resin of the terebinth was chewed to alleviate bad breathe. Chewing the resin, the fruit, or a few leaves is used for stomach pains, ulcers, heartburn and against toothache. Turpentine can be extracted from its trunk. Curing materials are made from its galls.

Distribution in Palestine: It can be found in the upper Jordan Valley as well  the mountains of the West Bank.

Other names: Palestinian Pistachio.

 IUCN red list status: least concern.

Local status: least concern.