Wild pistachio (Pistacia species)

Wild Pistachio nut in the shellWild Pistachio plants can grow as shrubs or trees up to a height of 7 meters (23 feet). It branches are spreading and form a dense crown.  The bark of the Wild Pistachio is typically ashen gray in color and deeply fissured often giving the tree a haggard look.  Its leaves grow alternately along the stem with each stem growing 7-9 lance-shaped leaflets.  Some species grow three large leaves per stem.  Some kinds of pistachio trees are evergreen; others lose their leaves during the dry season.

Wild Pistachio growing in the wildThe fruit contains an edible seed (nut).  The fruits or nuts are usually hard and dry at maturity with a whitish or beige exterior shell.  Small, greenish flowers are produced but fall off the tree quickly.  The fruit is oblong, only about 1/4 inch long, pink in color when unripe and reddish blue in color when ripe.  The seed has a greenish tint to it.

Where to Find: About seven kinds of wild pistachio nuts are found in desert or semi-desert areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea to Turkey and Afghanistan. The pistachio is generally found in evergreen scrub forests or scrub and thorn forests.  They prefer well-drained soil and plenty of sun.

Wild Pistachio fruitEdible Parts: You can eat the oil nut kernels after parching them over coals.  They can be eaten raw but taste like turpentine if unripe.

Other Uses: The plant contains a rubber that is used as chewing gum in some parts of the world.  The resin can be used to manufacture lacquer and essential oils are used in perfume.  The sap can be dried and used as incense.  The hard, dry shells can be used as fire kindling.

Wild Pistachio trees with their broken bark and gangly limbs can look haggard

Wild Pistachio branches with visible fruit

Wild Pistachio leaves and fruit

Young Wild Pistachio fruit

Wild Pistachio fruit and pinnate leaves

Wild Pistachio fruit

Color drawing of Wild Pistachio plant

Color drawing of Wild Pistachio tree illustrating flowers, leaves, fruit, and cross sections of fruit/nut

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