The genus Pistacia is made up of 10 species, all belonging to the Anarcardiaceae family. These plants are native to the Canary Islands, North Africa, and other warm, steppe areas of Eurasia. These are some trees and shrubs that usually reach 25 meters in height and other species do not exceed one meter.

In this article we are going to review the most common and well-known species of the genus Pistacia so that you can get to know them better.

Genus Pistacia

As we have mentioned before, they are plants that grow in warm areas, so they require a higher degree of humidity to keep well. Most have alternate, compound and pinnate leaves. We find both evergreen and deciduous species. They are phanerogamic and dioecious plants. This means that they have both male and female flowers and are separated from each other.

If you want a population of Pistacias in your garden or meadow to work well, there must be plants of both sexes. As for trees, they can also be deciduous or evergreen. Scientists think that this genus emerged about 80 million years ago and has evolved to what it is today. The flowers are apétalas and they are grouped in clusters. Depending on the species, we find varieties from purple to green.

As for its fruit, it is usually a drupe that has an unpleasant taste, although there are some species that are edible. The seeds have no endosperm. The way they reproduce is through the consumption of seeds and their subsequent dispersal by birds. For these birds, the fruits of the Pistacia are usually a valuable resource in the times of the year of breeding, migration and the cold season, when food is scarce.

Many of the species belonging to this genus are plants adapted to drought that could live perfectly in the desert. For this reason, they can live perfectly in the Mediterranean climate, where there is usually summer drought in the hot time of the year. Another advantage is that it tends to have a high tolerance to saline soils, so there is no problem in sowing them in coastal areas.

Main requirements

It does not require too many requirements since they are capable of adapting to different environments. However, the temperature range in which they survive ranges from -10 degrees in winter to 40 degrees in summer. It is a plant that has a fairly slow development, so it will not begin to bear fruit until 7 or 10 years after its birth.

Some of the species of the genus prefer a higher amount of humidity, but do not fully develop in high humidity conditions. This is because the roots are prone to rotting and being attacked by parasitic fungi. To avoid this situation, it will be necessary to water in moderation so as not to crowd the irrigation water. Soil drainage must also be taken into account. If the soil has a texture that does not allow the irrigation water to filter well, we will be running the risk of the plant rotting due to excess water or being prone to being attacked by parasitic fungi.

To have a good development, it requires a period of annual drought. This is typical of climates where it develops naturally. These plants often emit a resin or medicinal odor. In some of the species it is quite aromatic and intense. You can multiply them both by seeds and by cuttings and shoots from the root. If you wish, some of the arboreal and shrub species can form some clumps due to the extreme conditions in which they are subjected in their natural habitat. They also form these clumps because herbivore consumption is excessive and they prevent it from developing well.

Some of the best known species

Let’s now make a count of the best known species and put a brief description

Pistacia lentiscus

It is commonly known as a mastic. It is an evergreen dioecious shrub that exceeds 5 meters in height if proper care is taken. The leaves are dark green and its flowers are red but quite small in size. Flowering takes place in spring. They are usually used for the formation of hedges and some denser groups. They are perfect for coastal gardens in Mediterranean climates.

It needs sun exposure and a warm climate. It is not demanding with the type of soil, unless it has good drainage and irrigation water does not accumulate. To plant it, it is best in the fall or spring. It does not need pruning or fertilizers, since it can grow in poor soils. He does appreciate some manure.

Pistacia terebinthus

It is commonly known as cornicabra. It is a deciduous shrub that can be between 5 and 6 meters high. Its leaves are bright green and the flowers are small, red and arranged in clusters. Flowering takes place in mid-spring. It is used as a colonizing plant in the driest areas of the garden.

It needs sun exposure and high temperatures, although it resists some frosts in winter. It can live in limestone and poor soils, so it does not need compost or pruning. It is best to water them moderately to avoid waterlogging. Before watering again, let the soil dry out.

Atlantic Pistacia

The Atlantic Pistacia is a deciduous tree that reaches between 8 and 12 meters in height. Its crown is thick and the leaves are bright green. Its flowers also appear in clusters and it has both female and male. It needs a location in full sun, and be away from pipes or pavements since its roots can damage them. It can grow in poor soils, although it needs good drainage to avoid waterlogging. It does not need too much watering due to its high resistance to drought.

Pistacia vera

It is a deciduous tree with a height between 5 and 7 meters. The dark green leaves and flowers appear in clusters and are brownish-green. They need sun exposure and good soil drainage. It supports drought well, so the waterings should be moderate. It can survive in poor soil and needs neither pruning nor compost.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the Pistacia genus.

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