The “charneca of Cuquil” is a specimen of mastic (scientific name Pistacia lentiscus) that, due to its size and importance, was listed as unique tree in 2014. The book “Unique Listed Trees of Extremadura”, published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, Environment and Energy in July 2015, defined the Charneca of Cuquil as “an essential tree, which justifies the trip, and a biometric giant, being one of the ten largest specimens of this species in the Iberian Peninsula”.
The mastic is a shrub 1-2 metres high that if allowed to grow freely can reach 6-7 metres. The charneca of Cuquil has an estimated age of 250 years, and its dimensions are 7 m high, 10 m cup diameter, 1.66 m normal perimeter. The crown is globular, very dense and tangled, it lacks some secondary branches and you can see hollows and scars typical of specimens of its age. According to the book cited above, “It is the most valuable specimen of the species in Extremadura and one of the most outstanding in the Iberian Peninsula. You would have to move to the forests of Turkey, with very old specimens, to find specimens that exceed in size.”
The charneca is located about 5 km from the town of Casas de Don Pedro, in the place known as Arroyo del Cuquil. It is located on private land, in the middle of a field, and is currently protected by a wooden fence. At first glance it can be confused with an oak, but its characteristic green colour betrays it. It seems that previously the charneca was on the border of two properties and was used as a landmark at first and as a resting place later. The route is simple, with hardly any slope. As soon as we cross the N-430 road we find the fountain, where many neighbours go to get water. The roads are wide and run through pastures and fields so shade is rare.
The mastics have branches with greyish bark, although the most tender are greenish or reddish, and when wounded they give off a resinous aromatic smell. The leaves have an intense green colour and are kept all year round. The leaves are compound, pinnate, that is, the leaves are composed of an even number of foliole placed along an axis. The folioles (leaflets) are leathery, with the entire edge, topped in a small tooth, with an outline between elliptical and oblong-lanceolate, and lighter on the underside.
The flowers are unisexual, and come out between March and May. They are small, arranged in short spikes in the armpit of the leaves, greenish or reddish in colour, and have no petals. The male flowers have five stamens inserted in an annular disc and calyx with five lobes, while the female ones have a calyx with 3 or 4 lobes and a pistil with three stigmas that when ripe originates a small and globular fruit called drupe, with little flesh, at first red and later almost black.
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