Herbs of the Holyland by Nissim Krispil

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Common name:


Synonym name:

Palestine Pistachio

Hebrew name:

אלה ארץ ישראלית

Scientific name:

Pistacia palaestina


Anacardiaceae אלתיים

Arabic name:


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2-8 m
Flowering color:
Flowering period:
Growing areas:
palestine pistachio Grows up in the rough terrains and woods, it can mostly be found growing near the oak tree in natural woodlands of mountains and heels.
Palestine Pistachio, or as it commonly called - terebinth, is a Deciduous tree or shrub. The pistachio and oak tree are the main trees of Israel natural Groves. At spring time the leaves start blooming in red color afterwards they become greenish. At early winter, just before the fall they turn red again. The tips of the leaves are pointed; on the branches, usually grows large galls, in banana like-shape.
The pistacia Resin is used in folk medicine against abdominal pain, for healing wounds, cure liver, relieving breath, heartburn, improve appetite, and against bleeding from the womb.
For treating ulcer, liver disease and more
The patient has to chew a lump of resin and swallow. Another simple way is to chew the ends of the cut branches and swallow.
For toothaches and gingivitis 
Chewing a leaf of Palestine terebinth helps to relieve dental pain. 
The terebinth resins are sold in spice markets under the Arabic name "Mistka", it can be found in Lewinsky market in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda. The resin crystals has a yellow-brown color. Chewing the resin neutralizes the bacteria that covers the teeth and gums and relieves pain.


The terebinth fruit pulp becomes purplish at the peak of its ripening. In the Arab villages they prepare from this pulp a spice for seasoning different foods,  and it even a supplement in their famous za'atar. Even nowadays we can find in Markets, of Hebron, Jerusalem, Nablus and Jericho, bags of roasted terebinth fruits that are sold for preparation of the spice. 

Pistacia tree was already known at the bible era: "hey sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and offer upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and terebinths" (Hosea 4,13). "under every leafy tree, and under every thick terebinth" (Ezekiel, 6,13). In Roman legends, and also Scandinavian and German legends, it is told that terebinth tree is growing in the Garden of Eden and that man was created from it. 
Rabbi Ohana, in his book "children view" (in Hebrew: Maree Hayeladim) tells about The resin:  "it cleanses the body from filth and dirt, and it is good for women who give birth to eat the resin for cleansing their body and helping the milk production."
The resin stimulates and strengthens the stomach. It is used as a medicine for arthritis, and helps to treat coughing. 
In Iraq the resin is accepted for treating children diarrhea, and in India it is used for making dental fillings. 
Moroccan Jews would buy blocs of resin from the 'Attar' – the arab name of the spice seller; the blocs were called Mstichei (gums) because people used to chew it. And it was good against abdominal pain. 
Yemen Jews used the resin to heal wounds, cure liver, improve appetite, Facilitate breathing, heartburn, and against bleeding from the womb. 
The terebinth resin is sold at arabs markets, at Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv at Levinsky market. The dried resin is sold as small crystals in yellowish brown tint. The resin can be produced in a quite simple way. Prune the twigs (young branches) and soak the lopped parts in water. After Two hours, the resin is crystallizes at the cut parts. You can also collect the droplets of resin that are created on the branches and galls.