Pistachio (Gr. ), the name of an edible nut and of the tree which bears it (pistacia vera), which is a native of western Asia, and is generally cultivated in southern Europe. The tree was formerly placed in the terebinthinacecey but that order is now united with the cashew-nut family (anacardiacem), of which we have several native examples in the sumachs. The pistachio is a tree 20 or 30 ft. high, its leaves with three or five leaflets; the small flowers are dioecious, the males in close clusters, and the females in a loose raceme; the fruit is a sort of dry drupe, about the size and shape of an olive, the exterior portion somewhat woody and enclosing the seed, which is known in commerce as the pistachio nut. The seeds are irregularly oval, about an inch long, of a reddish green externally, and within of a bright green, exceedingly pleasant to the taste, and in the countries where they grow largely eaten as a luxury. The great fondness of the Turks and Greeks for the seeds is said to be the reason why so few find their way into commerce. In Europe they are candied, or coated with sugar in the same manner that almonds are sugared; they yield by expression an oil similar to that of almonds.
In this country their use is confined to the confectioners and pastry cooks, who find in their cotyledons a harmless green coloring matter which is used to color ices and similar articles; it gives a more pleasing green than spinach juice, which is often used for the same purpose. The tree is hardy in England, in sheltered localities, and in favorable portions of France; it would no doubt succeed in our southern states. There are about five other species of pistacia, one of which, P. lentiscus, produces the resin mastic (see Mastic), and another, P. tereMnthus, yields the Ohio turpentine, and also curious galls.
Pistachio (Pistacia lentiseus).