Scorched Earth

In 2012 a disastrous wildfire swept through the southern part of the Greek island of Chios. Five years on, the scorched earth is slowly recovering. Although in many areas, burnt trees still stand like black skeletons.

This area of Chios is the only place on earth where the famed mastic tree grows. Slowly, these stunted evergreen trees are being rejuvenated, clinging to the dark red soils on the hillside terraces.

Earth: The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.



  1. Hello Debi,
    Fascinating visual of this recovering landscape. In the second photo, what is the white on the mastic tree?
    It seems to be concentrated on the lower part of the tree. Thank-you,!

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    • It is part of what they call the “table”, the level compacted area around the base of the tree. They never plough the table – only rows between trees. Just before they “embroider” (i.e. make shallow slits in the bark), fine white sifted soil is thrown around the table. The fine mastic “tears” that fall and missed when the hardened resin is picked from the bark are then gathered up with the white dust and then sieved. Explanation curtesy of the fantastic Mastic Museum – one of the Piraeus Bank series of museums on intangible culture. Really lovely island to visit.

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  2. What a landscape and what incredible trees Debi, the bark and form of the trees is so amazingly twisted they look sort of like Ents (from Lord of the Rings if you’re not a middle earth fan) 🙂


  3. Very devastating fire on Chios. My mother-in-law always kept mastic gum on hand as an indigestion remedy. My favorite aperitif is Mastika. We always bring a bottle home from Greece along with a suitcase of lentils, chickpeas, olive oil, olives, ouzo, and many other goodies. The Mastika never lasts long – too delicious.


    • Most of the areas affected by the fire are making growing back, but it must have been horrendous at the time. We saw scorched and blackened stumps that went down the hillside right to the sea. We also like Mastika and were given a gift of it when we left – along with a huge supply of mastic gum and the white gooey spoon sweet made with mastic. Luckily, there is a Mastic store in downtown Athens (near Syntagma) as well as one in the airport to keep us supplied!

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