Original French:  Terebinthe,

Modern French:  Terebinthe,

Among the plants that, like Pantagruelion, have two sexes.



Terebinto [Pistacia terebinthus L.]

Laguna, Andres (ca. 1511 – 1559), Annotationes in Dioscoridem Anazarbeum … iuxta vetustissimorum codicum fidem elaboratae.. Lyon: Apud Gulielmum Rovillium, 1554. Smithsonian Libraries


The terebinth has a ‘male’ and a ‘female’ form. The ‘male’ is barren, which is why it is called ‘male’; the fruit of one of the ‘female’ forms is red from the first and as large as an unripe lentil; the other produces a green fruit which subsequently turns red, and, ripening at the same time as the grapes, becomes eventually black and is as large as a bean, but resinous and somewhat aromatic.

Theophrastus (c. 371-c. 287 BC), Enquiry into Plants. Volume 1: Books 1 – 5. Arthur Hort (1864–1935), translator. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1916. 3.15. Loeb Classical Library


XII. Syria et terebinthum habet. ex iis mascula est sine fructu, feminarum duo genera: alteri fructus rubet lentis magnitudine, alteri pallidus cum vite maturescit, non grandior faba, odore iucundior, tactu osus. resincirca Iden Troadis et in Macedonia brevis arbor haec atque fruticosa, in Damasco Syriae magna. materies ei admodum lenta ac fidelis ad vetustatem, nigri splendoris, flos racemosus olivae modo, sed rubens, folia densa. fert et folliculos emittentes quaedam animalia ceu culices lentoremque resinosum qui et ex cortice erumpit.

XII. Syria also has the turpentine-tree. Of this the male variety has no fruit, but the female has two kinds of fruit, one of them ruddy and the size of a lentil, while the other is pale, and ripens at the same time as the grape; it is no larger in size than a bean, has a rather agreeable scent, and is sticky to the touch. Round Mount Ida in the Troad and in Macedonia this is a low-growing shrub-like tree, but at Damascus in Syria it is big. Its wood is fairly flexible and remains sound to a great age; it is of a shiny black colour. The flower grows in clusters like the olive, but is crimson in colour, and the foliage is thick. It also bears follicles out of which come insects resembling gnats, and which produce a sticky resinous fluid which also bursts out from its bark.

Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD), The Natural History. Volume 4: Books 12–16. Harris Rackham (1868–1944), translator. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1945. 13.12. Loeb Classical Library


Meleses estants si frequentes au territoire d’Embrum & autout de Morienne, ne donneront despense à recouurer. Elles ont leurs semences plus petites que Cyprés, tant en la pommette que au noyau, toutesfois chasque chartée sur le lieu, qui l’entreprendoit, ne cousteroit pas un sou. C’est sur celuy dont la Manne est cueillie, & la grosse Terebenthine & l’Agaric aussi, & dont l’arbre est autant frequent es montaignes des Grisons, nommez en Latin Theti, qu’il fut onc, & es mesmes endroicts dont Tibere Empereur en feit apporter à Rome pour refaire le pont Naumachiarius, qui auoit esté bruslé.

Belon, Pierre (1517-64), Les Remonstrances sur le default du labour et culture des plantes, et de la cognoissance d’icelles, contenant la maniere d’affranchir et appriuoiser les arbres sauuages. Paris: Pour Gilles Crozet, en la grand salle du Palais, pres la Chapelle de Messieurs les Presidens, 1558. fueillet 44. Google Books


Pline en décrit plusieurs espèces : « Ex his mascula est sine fructu ; feminarum dup genera » (XIII, 12). En réalité, il n’y là qu’une espèce, et dioïque: Pistacia terebinthus L. (Térébinthacées). (Paul Delaunay)

Rabelais, François (ca. 1483–1553), Oeuvres. Édition critique. Tome Cinquieme: Tiers Livre. Abel Lefranc (1863-1952), editor. Paris: Librairie Ancienne Honoré Champion, 1931. p. 343. Internet Archive


terebinth. Forms: theribynte, terebynt, therebinthe, terebynte, -bint, -binthe, teribinth, terebinth. [Old French therebint(e (13th century in Hatzfeld and Darmesteter, Dictionnaire général de la langue française), -binthe, -bin, terebinte (Godefroy Compl.), adaptation of Latin terebinthus (Pliny), adopted from Greek terebinqoj, earlier terbinqoj and terminqoj, probably a foreign word.]

A tree of moderate size, Pistacia Terebinthus, N.O. Anacardiaceæ, a native of Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and Western Asia, the source of Chian turpentine, and a common object of veneration; also called turpentine tree, and Algerine or Barbary mastic-tree.

1382 John Wyclif Genesis. xxxv. 4 [Jacob] indeluede hem vndur an theribynte, that is bihynde the cite of Sichem.

1382 John Wyclif Ecclus. xxiv. 22, I as terebynt strei3te out my braunchis.

1535 Coverdale Isaiah. vi. 13 As the Terebyntes and Oketrees bringe forth their frutes.

1578 Bible (Genev.) Ecclus. xxiv. 18 margin, Terebinth is a hard tree… whereout runneth ye gumme called a pure turpentine.

1579 Edmund Spenser Shepherds’ Calendar. July 86 Here growes Melampode… And Teribinth, good for Gotes.

1601 Philemon Holland, translator Pliny’s History of the world, commonly called the Natural historie I. 389 In Syria grows the Terebinth or Terpentine tree… . This fruit of the Terebinth ripeneth with grapes.

1609 Bible (Douay) 1 Kings xiii. 14 He… found him sitting under a terebinth.

1863 W. A. Wright in Smith’s Dict. Bible I. 858/1 (Idolatry) The terebinth at Mamre, beneath which Abraham built an altar.

1885 Bible (R.V.) Isaiah vi. 13 As a terebinth, and as an oak.

Also terebinth tree.

1572 Bossewell Armorie iii. 23 b, The fielde is of the Moone, a Therebinthe tree, Saturne, floured and leafed, Veneris.

The resin of this tree = turpentine. Obsolete

1483 Caxton Golden Legend 51 b/1 Presente to that man yeftes, a lytyl reysyns and hony… therebinthe and dates.

1585 T. Washington tr. Nicholay’s Voy. iii. xv. 99 b, To make [their hair] grow… they vse by continuall artifice Terebinthe and vernish.

1672-3 Grew Anat. Roots i. iii. §21 The Root of Common Wormwood bleeds… a true Terebinth, or a Balsame with all the defining properties of a Terebinth.


turpentine. Forms: terebentine, -yne (see also terebinthine); terb-, turbentyne; terpentin, turpentyne, -tyn, terpentine, turpentine; turmyntyne, termenteyne. [In 14-15th century terebentyne, terbentyne, adopted from Old French tere-, terbentine, adaptation of Latin terbentina or terebinthina (resina): Already by 1400, Old French had tourbentine (in R. Estienne 1550, turbentine); so English turbentyn and turpentine. The 15-16th century variant termenteyne curiously approaches the earlier Greek terminqinh terebinthine resin, turpentine.]

A term applied originally (as in Greek and Latin) to the semifluid resin of the terebinth tree, Pistacia terebinthus (Chian or Cyprian turpentine); now chiefly to the various oleoresins which exude from coniferous trees, consisting of more or less viscid solutions of resin in a volatile oil.

1322 in Wardr. Acc. 16 Edw. II 23/20 Terbentyn 7d þe lb.

1398 John de Trevisa Bartholomeus De proprietatibus rerus xvii. clxiv. (Bodl. MS.) lf. 232/1 Therebintus is a tre þat sweteþ rosine… and þe rosine þereof hatte Therebentina.

C. 1400 Maundev. (1839) v. 51 A gome, þat men clepen Turbentyne.

C. 1425 tr. Arderne’s Treat. Fistula 32 Terbentyne. 1460-70 Bk. Quintessence ii. 25 Wiþ frank-encense, mirre, and rosyn, terbentyn and rewe.

C. 1425 tr. Arderne’s Treat. Fistula 31 Putte to of terebentyne als moche as sufficeþ… moue it strongly wiþ a spature vnto þat þe terebentyne be dronken in.

YC. 1400 Maundev. (Roxb.) vii. 26 A maner of gumme, þat es called Turpentyne.

1541 R. Copland Guydon’s Formul. X j b, Fomentacyon with oyle and terebentyne medled & warmedieval

1576 Baker Jewell of Health 128 Turpentine, which is a lycour dystilled and gotten of the Fyrre tree.

1580 Hollyband Treas. French Tong, Térébinthine, turpentyne.

1597 A. M. tr. Guillemeau’s French Chirurg. 42 b/2 Made of Oyle of Egges and of Venetiane Terebentine.

1601 Philemon Holland, translator Pliny’s History of the world, commonly called the Natural historie xv. xii. I. 465 In Syria they use to plucke the barke from the Terebinth, yea, and they pill the boughs and roots too for Terpentine.

1673 Grew Anat. Trunks i. ii. §18 Out of these Vessels all the clear Turpentine, that drops from the Tree, doth issue.

1718 Quincy Compl. Disp. 125 Common Turpentine… is procured from the Larch-Tree.

1813 Sir H. Davy Agric. Chem. iii. (1814) 97 When a portion of the bark is removed from a fir tree in Spring a matter exudes which is called turpentine.

1875 H. C. Wood Therap. (1879) 131 Turpentine is remarkable for having the property of absorbing oxygen and converting it into ozone.


Pistacia terebinthus, known commonly as terebinth and turpentine tree, is a species of Pistacia, native to the Mediterranean region from the western regions of Morocco, Portugal and the Canary Islands, to Greece and western Turkey. In the eastern shores of the Mediterranean sea — Syria, Lebanon and Israel — a similar species, Pistacia palaestina, fills the same ecological niche as this species and is also known as terebinth.

John Chadwick believes that the terebinth is the plant called ki-ta-no in some of the Linear B tablets. He cites the work of a Spanish scholar, J.L. Melena, who had found “an ancient lexicon which showed that kritanos was another name for the turpentine tree, and that the Mycenaean spelling could represent a variant form of this word.”

The word “terebinth” is used (at least in some translations) for a tree mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures (or Old Testament), where the Hebrew word “elah” (plural “elim”) is used. This probably refers to Pistacia palaestina which is common in the area.

Terebinth from Oricum is referred to in Virgil’s Aeneid, Book 10, line 136, where Ascanius in battle is compared to “ivory skilfully inlaid in […] Orician terebinth” (”inclusum […] Oricia terebintho […] ebur”).

Terebinth is referred to by Robin Lane Fox in Alexander the Great: “When a Persian king took the throne, he attended Pasargadae, site of King Cyrus’s tomb, and dressed in a rough leather uniform to eat a ritual meal of figs, sour milk and leaves of terebinth.”

Wikipedia. Pistacia terebinthus. Wikipedia



Posted 22 January 2013. Modified 26 November 2017.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.