Herb: Terebinth

Latin name: Pistacia terebinthus

Family: Pistaciaceae

Medicinal use of Terebinth:

The resin obtained from this tree (see below for more details) is antiseptic, antispasmodic, cytostatic, expectorant and vulnerary. It is taken internally in the treatment of chronic bronchial infections, streptococcal, urinary and renal infections, haemorrhage, gallstones, tapeworm and rheumatism. Externally, it is used to treat arthritis, gout, sciatica, scabies and lice. It has also been used in the treatment of cancer.

Description of the plant:


9 m
(30 feet)

May to


Habitat of the herb:

Dry open woods and scrub, usually in calcareous soils.

Edible parts of Terebinth:

Seed - raw or cooked. Sweetish. It is sweeter and oilier than an almond. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. The immature fruits, including the stems, are preserved in vinegar and salt. Known as "atsjaar", they are used as a relish to accompany wines served during meals. The fruit is about 7mm long and 6 mm wide, it contains a single seed. Young leaves - cooked and used as a vegetable. A resin from the trunk is used as a vegetable and as a chewing gum.

Other uses of the herb:

Yields the resin "Cyprus turpentine", which is obtained from incisions made in the bark (not the trunk) of the tree. The incisions are made from mid summer to mid autumn. It is mainly used medicinally in the treatment of cancer and also as a chewing gum. The plant can be used as a rootstock for the pistachio nut, P. vera. A red dye is obtained from galls that are formed on the leaves by aphis. The plant is a source of tannin.

Propagation of Terebinth:

Pre-soak the seed for 16 hours in alkalized water, or for 3 - 4 days in warm water, and sow late winter in a cold frame or greenhouse. Two months cold stratification may speed up germination, so it might be better to sow the seed in early winter. The germination is variable and can be slow. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow on the plants for at least their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out into their permanent positions in early summer and consider giving some protection from winter cold for their first year or two outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood from juvenile trees, July in a frame. Layering.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry open woods and scrub, usually in calcareous soils.

Known hazards of Pistacia terebinthus:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.