Pistacia lentiscus

Pistacia lentiscus

The lentiscus (Pistacia lentiscus, L. 1753) is an evergreen shrub of the Anacardiaceae family, among the most representative of the Oeo-ceratonion. In some areas it is called a lentil.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view the Lentisco belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, the Kingdom Plantae, the Magnoliophyta Division, the Magnoliopsida Class, the Rosidae Subclass, the Sapindales Order, the Anacardiaceae Family and then the Pistacia Genus and the P. lentiscus Species.

Etymology –
The name of this genus comes from the Greek “pistákion”, anchoring with the persian “pistáh” rich in flour. The term lentisscus instead identified Latin in this species.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Pistachio lentiscus is a typical plant of the Atlantic and Mediterranean southern coasts. It is a Mediterranean entity in the narrow sense and therefore with a limited area on the Mediterranean coast and therefore the Olive area.
It is a heliophilic, thermophilic and xerophilic plant that grows from sea level to 600 meters. As seen is a component of evergreen Mediterranean scrub often in association with olivaste, fillirea and myrtle; Very adaptable to the soil it grows better however on siliceous soils. It is not a colonizing species but it can have a dominant appearance in the degradation stages of the stain, especially after repeated fires.
The vegetation area is Lauretum. In Italy it is spread in Liguria, in the peninsula and in the islands. On the western Adriatic side it does not move beyond Ancona. In the eastern one it goes much further north, reaching the whole coast of Istria.
It is one of the most widespread and representative shrubs of the Olio-ceratonion, often in association with olivastre and myrtle. More sporadic is its presence in Mediterranean scrub and gariga. Due to its frugality and its discrete resistance to fires, it is quite common in bushy pastures and in the more degraded areas of the stain.

Description –
The lentic is a plant with bushy, rarely tree-like plant, generally up to 3-4 meters high. The hairline is generally dense due to its thick, glaucous, globose branch. The whole plant emits a strong resinous smell. The bark is gray cinerine, the rose-colored wood. The plant rarely assumes a 6-8 m high tree finish. It has an accentuated smell of resin; Generally thick hairs for dense, branched, branched branches with tendentially horizontal branches; Squamous brownish bark in young branches and brown-reddish in the trunk; Wood of rosy color. It has alternate leaves, dull, glabrous, with dark greenish color, with 6-10 elliptic lanceolate limbs on the whole edge and dull, 30 mm long, lumpy, glabrous, with a small apical mucron and slightly wedged rachis.
The lentil is a godson species, with female flowers and male flowers separate on different plants.
The Lentiscus flowers are amorphous, pentamorphic, tetracyclic, in short and dense cylindrical cubes arranged at the aisle of the leaves of the sprigs of the previous year; Male flowers have 4-5 stamens and a rudimentary pistil; Are noticeable for the presence of live red vases; The female flowers are of a green color with the ovary superus; The petals are absent.
The lentiscus fruit is a globose or lenticular drup, 4-5 mm in diameter, fleshy, reddish, tending to black at maturity, containing a single seed.
Flowering takes place in the spring, April to May. The red fruits are well visible in the summer and autumn and mature in the winter.

Cultivation –
The lentil is a species that needs sunny positions to grow to the best, but it can withstand half shade; Generally it can withstand temperatures close to 10 ° C, although in areas with particularly stiff winters it is good to repair it or place it near a wall or other shrubs. It is a plant that absolutely loves direct light and warmth. The ideal way is to place it in a position south of it.
Clearly, this becomes increasingly important as its cultivation moves to the northern regions.
If we live on the coasts or on the islands we can get beautiful specimens with a slightly shaded exposure. For example, the shadow of the morning is not bad if in the afternoon the lighting is constant.
This shrub usually does not require watering, although in the hot, dry, summer months, it may be necessary to water it every 15-20 days. Concerning fertilization is good in autumn to burrow the feet of the plant of well-matured organic fertilizer.
The Lentis is housed in rich, loose and well-drained soil; In nature the lentil grows in rocky and poor terrain, in the garden often tends to develop faster than in the places of origin, being able to extract more nutrients from the ground. The lentil is a very tolerant plant from this point of view. It fits all types of soil, from the poorest to the richest and the most rich. It also lives well with clay and compact substrates.
As far as multiplication is concerned, in spring it is possible to sow the seeds harvested during the winter; If desired, it is also possible to practice semilegnese cuttings in late spring, but usually the lentic cuttings root with great difficulty.

But the most used method in the nursery is the herbaceous cuttings. Usually, in July, we pick up segments of the year and insert them into a very light compound with a high percentage of sand and agri-perlite. The substrate must always be kept damp and at a temperature of about 20 ° C, in a shaded area. Usually rooting is fast and plants can already be put into individual containers in autumn and then moved to the ground next spring after the end of the frosts.
The lentis is generally not necessary because it naturally acquires the shape we find spontaneously. Anyway we can even decide to grow it to a tree. In that case you will have to choose a single jet coming from the ground and free it for a certain portion. Above we will model the coat, possibly with an open shape. The lentic may also be used for the realization of formal or informal hedges in a Mediterranean environment. It also tolerates drastic cuts and small leaves can easily be shaped according to our tastes. The most important interventions will have to be done during the first few years. The main branches will be truncated to increase the birth of secondary branches and consequently make the shrub thicker and more extensive. Subsequently, it is necessary to intervene only to maintain the forms and, eventually, to eliminate weak, dead or poorly directed branches.
The lentic are recognized as pedogenetic properties and is considered to be an enhancing species in the soil. The soil under the bushes of this species is considered a good substrate for gardening. For these reasons, the species is important, from an ecological point of view, to the recovery and evolution of degraded areas.
This plant remains green even in the summer during the period of increased dryness due to its resistance to aridity. It has a large polloniferous capacity; Although the branches are practically destroyed by fire, the plant quickly forms a new vegetation after a fire.
Among the adversity of the lenticus are mainly the oidio, the mites and the coccinella. These can sometimes attack the plant, especially if it is cultivated in poorly ventilated areas. It is a fairly healthy plant and in fact it is rather self-contained.
It is usually hit by some mites (such as Eriophyes stephanii) and aphids (Anopleura lentis). Both of these parasites cause the appearance of galleons at the expense of the leaves. Particularly affected is the leaf limbo that curls.

Uses and Traditions –
In the traditional medicine of the Mediterranean basin countries, the lentiscal resin (obtained by engaging the trunk) is commonly used to combat digestive tract infections and in particular stomach ulcers. However, its effectiveness has been confirmed by recent scientific studies, in particular it is capable of fighting the Heliobacter pylori bacterium. One way to perform these treatments is through resin chewing. It is a very common practice in some islands in Greece.
Current resin uses range from perfumery to dental technology (as a component of pastes for dental fillings and dentures).
In some areas and in some languages ​​this vegetable is also called “mastice tree”. In fact, it is used to obtain a very aromatic gum and flavor. There is evidence that this was already used in antiquity as we do today with chewing-gum. By making engravings on the trunk and on the branches, an airborne resin (mastic) is obtained; It has a distinctive smell and is called Chio’s mastic. The chewing gum, if chewed, becomes a malleable paste that adheres to the teeth and, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic action, combats gingivitis, piorrea and smells the breath.

In Chio, which is the site of highest resin production, a resin-derived aromatic liqueur is produced, with Mastika’s highly appreciated digestive functions. In Sardinia, the resin is used in the production of a local gin, the Giniu.
It is also required by the confectionery industry and the cosmetics industry.
The lentiscus wood has a color that goes from pink to ocher with bellissie yellow veins. It is used for the construction of small wooden sculptures and also for the ebanisteria.
The oil extracted from its fruits has a yellow color and a very intense scent. It is used for therapeutic purposes and as an essential massage oil. Some of its decongestant properties against the lymphatic system are universally recognized. In Sardinia, where it is very common, its oil was used by the population in the absence of olive oil. It was also used as a lamp oil.
However, the latest scientific studies on phytotherapy have confirmed the goodness of this product, which had achieved great success in popular medicine. Rich in essential fatty acids, because of its excellent properties it can be effectively used as anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, healing, moisturizing and nutrient, so that in recent times both dermatology and the cosmetic and food industry seem to have rediscovered it.
Some studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of this oil in lowering blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, in fighting certain gastro-intestinal diseases (eg dyspepsia) and in helping to prevent certain types of cancer due to its Antioxidant properties.
The lentic is a species that in the past has been widely used for many purposes; Today its uses are more limited.
The lentil is of great ecological importance for the rapidity with which it restores a good degree of vegetative coverage of the denuded soil. It is in fact considered an improving species in the soil. The soil under the bushes of this species is considered a good substrate for gardening. For its rusticity it is most suitable for use in environmental reclamation and for the green furnishing of marginal or difficult areas, such as those on sloping and highly rocky areas.
The tender, spicy and slightly tannic shoots are appetite by wild ruminants.
The lentiscus lends itself to being used as a component of Mediterranean gardens and rock gardens. Because it is resistant to drastic pruning it is also suitable for the creation of geometric hedges; The thick branching and the small size of the leaflets are good for this purpose.
Among the spontaneous species, this plant is the most sought after by the floricultural market for its cut green leaves that, due to the delicate foliage, are particularly suitable for the creation of mixed floral compositions; Such massive use with indiscriminate cuts is causing serious damage to Albania, Tunisia but also to southern Italy. To overcome this destruction of the habitat has begun timidly to cultivate it.
Lenticular lumber is appreciated for inlay work and small turntable jobs thanks to its hardness and beautiful red-veined color. Previously it was used to produce vegetable charcoal and is still appreciated today to feed pizzeria’s wood-burning ovens as its combustion allows to reach rapidly at high temperatures.
The leaves, rich in tannins, were used for the tanning of skins.
Essential oil produced from fruits is considered effective in treating rheumatism; It has balsamic, anti-inflammatory, sedative and antiseptic properties of mucous membranes; The high content of tannic substances makes it a valuable help in the case of disparities, although the use of the lentis as a medicinal plant is currently not recommended for internal use because it can cause poisoning and intolerance phenomena.
Seed oil is used in cosmetics to make soaps with balsamic and antiseptic characteristics.
Lentisco’s essential oil is a great balsamic, toning and refreshing to add to the bath water. It can also be used to perfume the air in the house. The dried resin can be used to perfume cabinets and keep insects away.
The adhesive is still used today as an adhesive. It also has artistic uses: dissolving in turpentine essence provides an excellent finish paint for tempera and oil paintings especially for neutral restorations on antique paintings.
In the past, the fruits were boiled and squeezed to extract an oil used as a fuel for lighting and as a substitute for olive oil for feeding, especially during periods of famine or poorly harvested olive and olive.
In the past berries were used to flavor the meat and were used in salad with other grass meadows or as feed for birds.
The mastic is used in the Eastern Mediterranean as well as chewing substance, such as beverage flavoring (eg wine), ice cream, liquor.
In animal feed, the residual oil drain pan can be used as such and as feed, especially for pigs, and has good dietary characteristics.
Ever since ancient times (Dioscoride, Hippocrates, Galen, Pliny), his many properties were appreciated. Pliny the Elder in his “Natural History” suggests to use the fruit oil and mixed with wax to dress the excoriation and fresh leaves for the inflammation of the oral cavity.
In Greece, the plant was consecrated to Dictymna, a nymph of Artemis who loved to adorn it; Since analogue use was made by Hellenistic virgins, over time this plant remained linked to the symbols of purity and virginity.
In the Middle East it was used to disinfect and perfume and was known for its antiseptic properties, so much so that it was used to treat wounds, treat gastric ulcers and preserve oral hygiene, in the form of a chewing gum The treatment of teeth and gums and the purification of breath. In fact, thanks to chewing, the mastic becomes plastic and performs a remarkable therapeutic action on teeth and gums. Today, the resin is now used as an ingredient in modern chewing gums and is widely used in perfumery and, in the field of dental technology, is included in pastes for fillings and denture mastics. It is also used by artists such as paint and restoration.
Just read the Greek and Latin classics to find extensive references to the innumerable uses of this plant, known for its diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, cicatrizating properties, etc., so that it can be exploited for the production of food oil, wound care and Gastric ulcers, skin cleansing and purification, cough and cold treatment, and even dyeing of the hair.
In Sardinian tradition, especially in agro – pastoral areas, it was common practice to prepare wrappings of leaves to heal wounds and to deodorize their feet, so that the younger and more tender leaves were placed inside the shoes to perfume and prevent the feet, Excess sweating.
The Lentis, along with the Mirto (Mirtus communis), was at the base of Mortelle’s trade. In the reply it was widely harvested to be sold to the Venetian merchants who used it mainly to conceive the skins. From the port of Vasto large quantities of myrtle and lentisco were collected, also collected in the vast hinterland (Lentella, Fresagrandinaria and other places).
Although lost much of its ancient importance, lentisco is a species that still has a wide use for many purposes and would therefore be reintroduced for its incredible properties and features.
In Sardinia, the lentiscus oil (oll’e stincu) was until the 20th century the most consumed vegetable fat after olive oil and olive oil. The olive oil of a certain quality was in fact intended for the meals of the rich and for the special occasions, while much of the oil produced, being of poor quality, was mainly used to power the lamps. The lentiscus oil was perhaps appreciated for its distinct aromatic properties, far superior to those of lampy oil, but in any case it was a food intended for the meals of the poor, which was widely used in periods of Famine and on rare occasions harvested by olive trees and olive trees.
The tradition of lentiscus oil as fat is lost in the mid-twentieth century, when in the Second World War there was more spread before olive oil, then seed oils. It is an oil with a low yield (8-13%), consequently relatively expensive, with a distribution of fatty acids (50-60% oleic acid, 20-30% palmitic acid, 10-25% linoleic acid very similar to That of tens of oleaginous plants with much higher yields. Later, lentiscus oil had rare sporadic uses as a niche product or for folklore purposes.
Another use is the one derived from timber processing. Lenticular lumber is appreciated for inlay work thanks to the veined red color. In the past it was used to produce vegetable charcoal and is still appreciated today to feed pizzeria’s wood-burning ovens, as its combustion allows to reach high temperatures quickly.
In ancient times, the leaves of Pistacia lentiscus, rich in tannins, were used for the tanning of skins. The branches are used as ornamental green. Such massive use through indiscriminate cuts without any control by the authorities is causing serious damage to the forests of Albania in Tunisia and southern Italy. It is also considered anti-diarrheal. Even today, as in the past with the resin, melted in the pure turpentine, a paint for artistic uses (oil painting and / or tempera) is prepared for both “dying” colors and for neutral restorations on antique paintings.

Preparation Method –
From the lentic, as said, an oil can be obtained; Below we will mention a method to extract it.
You can make it all clear in craftsmanship as well, to start taking our hand, and if that “takes your hand,” you can go to more demanding systems.
You will need:
– Two to three pounds of lentisco drupe;
– A twist;
– Various cans and containers and spoons for various travasi.
– Bottles to put the extracted oil.
– Some days of time, though not continuous.
-Patience, love and a touch of curiosity
Between November and January, pick up a few pounds of drupe, preferably choosing black ones (mature ones). It is also easy for the red and white ones to go to your trash can: no problem! Only you will not have much oil from them.
In popular tradition it was to use the fruits of different plants, both for respect and for increasing the oil’s properties. Following this advice the plants will thank you.
At this point, collect the drupe, arm a pestle and pestate until you get a fairly homogeneous paste.
Let them also rest by turning them from time to time, doing what is called milling in olive oil mills, possibly near a source of heat. This passage facilitates the union of the micro droplets of oil present in the fruit paste and facilitates the rupture of the water-oils emulsions, thus making them easier to separate during extraction.
Once you knock and rip off and turn and turn, you can start squeezing. Put the dough in the basket of press and start to press.
Fill the press basket with crushed lentil fruit. Now close the press of the press! It is recommended to do this very quietly. Turn until the press starts to resist. At that point do not exaggerate by force and wait.
Here’s the first juice to go out. You also notice the first drops of oil.
It is clear that at the beginning of squeezing comes very little oil and plenty of juice (enough foamy): put this first part in a first jar so you already have a first division done.
Approximately 3/4 of the volume of the squeezing begins to get a little more oil or less juice. I suggest you put this in a second jar. If it is already quite separate, it is not convenient to mix it with each other.
When it seems to you that you do not leave any more, put the press near a source of heat: a fireplace, a stove. Oil will come out more easily. Do not deny the first hard turns. So from your torque it is in the end that most of the oil comes out.
Repeat after a half hour or hour and make another turn and so on until the press will be “unmovable” even after the wait.
When it is no longer possible to turn around, even remove the basket and put the sansa left of seeds and skins in a container. You can throw it into the humid, scatter it into Nature in the hope that the seeds will sprout or squeeze them into a paper bag to have a further source of perfume.
Then go to the milling of other drumsticks.
And the job is not over. Now it’s the separation, which you can do in the meantime between press and another.
In the jar of the first part of the juice you will begin to see a liquid part, a dense part and very little oil. How to divide it?
One of the recommended methods is to put a piece of washed cotton in a colander and put it all in. Oil and juice will fall, the dense part will remain. From the liquid it is much easier to separate the oil than from the dense part.
At this point, the dense part of the first squeezing can be separated.
In fact, in the liquid as time passes the oil (much lighter) rises on the surface and you can divide it with a teaspoon. If it is too late, add water so that the draft is easier. Wait for a layer of oil to form.
Oil the oil and add it to that of the second squeezing (do not worry if you take some liquid, it is inevitable). At this point, wait for the oil to surface again. If you do not see any more drops of oil floating on the surface, you can also drop the liquid left in the first jar. (Or wait again if another oil comes to the surface.)
After you leave rest (say a day) you can do a further filtering. Juice tends to go down and so far all right, but also tends to form clots on the surface. So again, just take the part on the surface by making it go into a colander. The oil will fall and the clots will remain.
At this point you can go to the third filter.
Always with teaspoon or dropper put your precious oil in smaller flasks ready to perfume your body, nourish your hair or moisturize your skin. Also throw the remaining part on the bottom.
You have made the lentiscus oil and you have also understood why it was so precious in antiquity! If you have respected a bit of hygiene you can also taste it.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. The Health of the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and Experiences with Medicinal Herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (eds.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Caution: Pharmaceutical applications and surgical uses are indicated for information purposes only; they are not prescription-related in any way; Therefore, no liability is accepted for their use for any aesthetic or food purpose.

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