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This is a shrub or tree dioecious, with separate male and female plants, evergreen from 1 to 5 m high, with a strong smell of resin. It is a very hardy pioneer species dispersed by birds and abundant in dry Mediterranean. When older, it develops some large trunks and numerous thicker and longer branches. In appropriate areas, when allowed to grow freely and age, it often becomes a tree of up to 7 m. However, logging, grazing and fires often prevent its development. The leaves are alternate, leathery, and compound paripinnate (no terminal leaflet) with 5 or 6 pairs of deep green leaflets. It presents very small flowers, the male with 5 stamens, the female trifid style. The fruit is a drupe, first red and then black when ripe, about 4 mm in diameter[dubious – discuss]. In tourist areas, with palmitos or mediterranean dwarf Palm, and exotic plants, it is often chosen to repopulate gardens and resorts, because of its strength and attractive appearance. Unlike other species of pistacia, it retains its leaves throughout the year. It has been introduced as an ornamental shrub in Mexico, where it has naturalized and is often seen primarily in suburban and semi-arid areas where summer rainfall climate contrary to the Mediterranean, where the species originates, doesn't hurt it. A related species, Pistacia saportae, has been shown, by DNA analysis, to be a hybrid between maternal P. lentiscus and paternal Pistacia terebinthus (terebinth or turpentine). The hybrid has leaves imparipinnate, with leaflets semipersistent, subsessile terminal and sometimes reduced. Usually, P. terebinthus and P. lentiscus occupy different biotopes and barely overlap: Mastic appears at lower elevations and near the sea, while the Pistacia terebinthus most frequently inhabits inland and mountainous areas such as the Iberian System.
Grows in the dry and rocky areas in Mediterranean Europe. It resists heavy frosts and grows on all types of soils and can grow well in limestone areas and even salty or saline, this makes it more abundant near the sea. It is also found in woodlands, dehesas (almost deforested pasture areas), kermes oak wood, oaks wood, garrigue, maquis, hills, gorges, canyons and rocky hillsides of the entire Mediterranean area. It is a very typical species that grows in Mediterranean mixed communities of myrtle, Kermes oak, Mediterranean dwarf Palm, buckthorn, sarsaparilla, etc. and serves as protection and food for birds and other fauna in this ecosystem.
Lentisco, Aroeira (Portuguese)