Pistacia


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Related to Pistacia: Pistacia lentiscus

Pistacia

 

a genus of nut-bearing shrubs and trees of the family Anacardiaceae. The leaves are usually deciduous, but occasionally evergreen, ternate, or pinnate. The flowers are unisexual, and they grow in axillary panicles. The plant is dioecious, and the fruit is a drupe.

The genus embraces approximately 20 species, which are native to Syria and Asia Minor. The USSR has two wild species, which grow in the Uzbek SSR, the Tadzhik SSR, and the Azerbaijan SSR; these are the common pistachio (P. vera) and the Turk terebinth (P. mutica). Four introduced species also grow in the USSR: the mastic tree (P. lentiscus), P. terebinthus, P. atlantica, and the Chinese pistachio (P. chinensis). Trees of the genus are most widely cultivated in Italy, Spain, Greece, and the USA. In the USSR they are grown in Middle Asia, Transcaucasia, and the Crimea.

The most common species of Pistacia is the common pistachio. The plant is usually a deciduous tree with numerous trunks that measures 5–10 m in height; it sometimes grows as a shrub with a dense crown. The leaves are odd-pinnate and leathery. The plant blossoms in April. The monospermous fruits (pistachio nuts) measure 1–2 cm in length and 0.5 cm in width; the kernel, which constitutes 47–49 percent of the nut, contains 54–60 percent fat, 18–25 percent protein, and as much as 16.7 percent nonnitrogenous extractive matter. The kernel is eaten fresh or roasted and is used in the confectionery industry. Vegetable oil is also extracted from the nuts. Wood from the pistachio tree is valued in the joining industry, and high-quality resins are obtained by tapping the trees. Galls on the leaves contain tannins (30–40 percent) and dye substances.

The common pistachio is drought-resistant and can tolerate temperatures as low as – 25°C. The plants reproduce by means of seeds, layers, or suckers and are commonly grafted. Grafted plants begin to bear fruit in the fourth or fifth year, and seed-grown plants in the ninth or tenth year. A grafted tree yields 30–45 kg of nuts annually after eight or ten years. The most popular varieties of pistachio include Kishlinskaia, Vakhshskaia, and Ekstra.

The Turk terebinth, a tree measuring 10–20 m in height, is found in Asia Minor, on the Balkan Peninsula, and in the USSR (the Crimea and the Caucasus). The tiny, inedible fruits contain up to 60 percent fat, from which industrial oil is obtained; the oil cake is fed to cattle. The resin is used to make turpentine and is employed in the paint and varnish industry.

REFERENCE

Kachalov, A. A. Derev’ia i kustarniki. Moscow, 1970.

V. A. KOLESNIKOV

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