This member of the genus Pistacia grows up to maximum 10 m and has got long-stalked leaves consisting of 3-5 leaflets. It blossoms in April and May and the fruit is 1-2 cm long, with the outer case when ripe splitting open to expose the seed inside. Fruit sold in North Cyprus is considered to be either imported or grown on trees grafted on to the stocks of Pistacia terebinthus.
Scattered specimens occur near Lapta, in Alsancak and below the Armenian Monastery at Alevkaya. The plantations can be also found near Ziyamet in the Karpaz. Although the specimen is native to Iran and Central Asia, it is widely cultivated across the whole Mediterranean.
Orange, lemon, mandarin, sour orange - it all make the traditional quatrain as citrus fruit is deeply rooted in the history of Cyprus having a special position in its nature and life.
Citrus fruit was first taken from the motherland of the citrus fruit, China, in the 11 th century by Arab merchants and was brought further to India and just then shipped to the Mediterranean. From there, Italian and Spanish seamen particularly spread it further to the American continent and to South Africa, where it easily adapted to the climate.
The citrus fruit appeared to be the crucial export article exceptionally at the end of the 1960's. However, before reaching this stage, trees of lemon, orange and sour orange (these are mostly included in Cyprus cuisine) were cultivated at nearly every house and the families tried to meet their needs for citrus fruit in this manner. Although widely available, most Turkish Cypriots have one lemon, one orange or one sour orange tree in their house gardens.
After an apple, orange is the second most suitable fruit to be eaten all over the world. Given the name "golden apple" in ancient times, orange has a wide number of varieties in Cyprus, among which such as Jaffa, Washington or Valencia which are the best-known and most consumed species of orange. "Sweet orange" belongs, however, to most often eaten in Cyprus. Many Cypriot parents want their children to eat oranges during winter to protect them from influenza and colds. Freshly squeezed orange juice has become a phenomenon of healthy breakfast and it is also highly demanded in the hotels and restaurants, and much consumed among the local people as well.
Lemon is definitely present at every meal in Cyprus as the meals are served with the addition of at least lemon drops if not lemon slices. Sour orange is not eaten fresh because of its bitter taste, but it is in a way unique in the world. Its peel is used to manufacture a preserve or sweet known as "macun" in Cyprus. It is served with a glass of cold water to the respected guests. "Sour orange preserve" has been regarded as an important guest-offering product ever since the Lusignan era, and although similar preserves are also made from peel of orange and grapefruit, sour orange preserve is different and more significant in Cyprus. Moreover, lemonade-type refreshments are all provided with the citrus fruit during the hot summer months.
Citrus fruit presents one of the most exportable items of Cyprus. Because of its special place in local cuisine and its leading position among the citrus-exporting countries, the citrus fruit carries a great significance for the Cypriots. It has also become an important symbol when promoting North Cyprus. "Orange" has been one of the images depicted in the promotional material. A traditional orange festival takes place annually in Gűzelyurt, which represents one of the main citrus growing regions and this way the recognition and appreciation of the citrus fruit is much expressed.