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South Eastern Türkiye

Pistacia

Pistacia is a genus of flowering plants that includes Pistacia vera (Pistachios) but also has other species that are of less economical value but just as important to local communities that have lived with them for centuries and who have learned how to use all parts of these trees in their daily lives.

They are resistant to drought and thrive in alkaline soils and are well adapted to fluctuations in temperatures (from -10 C in the winter to 45 C in the summer). They are trees or shrubs from 5 to 15 metres in height and can live for over a thousand years.

The trunk can reach 2 metres in diameter and it may take up to 200 years to reach 1 metre in diameter.

It is the root stock for Pistachio vera (pistachios) trees where the Pistachio scion is grafted onto a Pistacia root stock.

The genus Pistacia is estimated to be around 80 million years old.

Pistacia coffee is made from the fruits of Pistacia terebinths.

The fruit of Pistacia is the size of a pea and is reddish brown or blue in colour. The fruits are eaten and dispersed by birds. The plants emit a resinous smell that is very intense and aromatic. They are known to be very hardy plants and survive where other species have been eliminated.

The tree is tapped for turpentine. Terebinth resin has the ability to kill certain bacteria. The resin is used as a chewing gum in Türkiye. The essential oil is used in the perfume industry. The leaves are rich in tannins up to 20% in the galls caused by an aphid parasite. They are used as raw material for tanning in the leather industry. The sap is dried and used as incense.

But the Turkish genuine use of the seed was manifested in 2 products:

1 - Menengiç Kahvesi (Pistacia Coffee) and Menengiç sabunu (Pistacia Soap).

Pistacia coffee is made by roasting the seeds for 20 minutes at 200 degrees where they start to show a volatile chemical profile similar to coffee beans.

The roasting produces chemicals that give the nuts a burned sugar and caramel smell with a slight pine and citrus flavour.

The good thing about this coffee is the lack of caffeine naturally. So, it offers an alternative to people hooked on coffee but suffering from too much caffeine consumption. Also, it could be considered a gourmet-style coffee for those adventurous in trying alternative or unusual drinks.

Some coffee shops in Türkiye claim to have served Pistacia coffee for over 4 centuries.

2 - Pistacia Soap is another notable product from Southern Türkiye. The pistacia seeds are pressed to extract the oil which is used to make a famous local soap.

The pistacia oil is added to olive oil to make the soap in a traditional way.

Most of the soap is made in Mardin and Siirt in Southern Türkiye. They claim the soap has health good benefits for the hair and skin. It is alleged that it is a good treatment for hair loss and dandruff and that it is a natural conditioner.

So next time you enjoy your Pistachios think of the other products that this genus offers and the ingenious ways people have developed to make use of it, from making coffee to producing soap to name just two. 

Tektek Mountain National Park

This National Park was created in 2007 and covers an area of 19,335 hectares. In addition to the natural resources of the park, you can visit the ruins of Sumatar, Senem, and Şuayip here.

Throughout history, these mountains have had people of diverse civilizations, but the animal species that inhabit have not changed. You can see lynxes, gazelles, wolves, foxes, to mention just a few examples, and many birds that will delight birdwatching enthusiasts.

To visit it you’ll need a car, but you can count on a fascinating landscape and many historical traces to explore.