Mastic

Sideroxylon foetidissimum
Family: Sapotaceae

Natural History

Mastic also goes by several other common names - false mastic, jungle plum, and wild olive. Mastic grows in coastal areas of Florida, the Bahamas, and West Indies. In Florida, mastic is most common in the Keys and south Florida but can be found on the east coast as far north as Volusia County.

Mastic has a small, edible fruit is bitter and somewhat acidic but is enjoyed by some people. The fleshy fruit has a gummy, white sap that glues a person's lips together after eating a couple of the fruits. Some people find the leaves, bark, flowers, or fruits to have an unpleasant odor.

The heartwood is heavy, strong, and bright orange and the sapwood is thick and yellow. Mastic is a valuable for its timber in the Bahamas and West Indies and has been used for cabinetwork and boat timbers in the United States. In this country, however, mastic holds no real commercial value.

Mastic has the potential to make an excellent shade tree but is not for the impatient homeowner. It can take 100 years or more for mastic to mature to its tallest heights.


 

Identifying Characteristics

Size/Form: Mastic is a large, evergreen tree that reaches heights of 50' to 80'. Mastic has an irregular crown.
Leaves: The narrow leaves are 3" to 5" long by 1" to 2" wide, simple, alternately arranged, and clustered at the ends of twigs. The oval leaves are shiny, bright green above and yellow-green below. The leaf base is broadly wedged and the leaf tip is pointed, rounded, or notched. The leaf margin is wavy and slightly rolled inward.
Fruit: The fruit is a yellow, olive-shaped drupe that is 1" long. The thick, tough skin covers a fleshy, gummy, juicy, white interior. The fruit encloses a single, round seed that is ½" long.
Bark: The reddish-brown bark is scaly.
Habitat: Mastic grows in hammocks, mangroves, and sandy soils near tidewater areas.

 

Images

Click on thumbnails to see a larger image in a new window. Close the new window to return to this page.


Bark

Leaf

 

Learn More