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Mahleb or Mahalepi is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of a species of cherry, Prunus mahaleb (the Mahaleb or St Lucie cherry).  Mahleb, also known as bitter cherry, is a type of cherry that has a hard wood and non-edible fruit. The leaves are round or oval with a sharp or slightly elongated, round or heart-shaped base and glandular arched teeth. The color of the leaves is light green, shiny and smooth, and the veins behind it are furry. Dimensions 6-8 by 6-5 cm and petiole length is 3 cm. The petiole has no glands or one or two glands. The flowers of this tree are white and fragrant and give a bitter almond scent. The ovary is smooth and its axis is a smooth oval with dimensions of 7-12 * 6-10 mm, which first turns yellow and then red and black and has a sour taste.   When the fruit ripens, the kernels are pounded and used sparingly in bread and pastries. Its flavour is similar to a combination of bitter  almond and cherry, and similar also to marzipan. It grows in southern Europe, Asia Minor, Iran and Pakistan.

Scientific name

Prunus mahaleb

Other name

St Lucie cherry

Greek name

Machlép, Machlepi

Plant type

Deciduous tree or shrub

Harvested parts

Fruit, Seeds

Main producer


Main use

Flavoring for baked goods


Cross between a bitter almond, cherry with a hint of rose

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