A mustard tree is a small tree or bush that grows in the Middle East and Africa. The tree can also grow in the United States in dry, hot climates. The mustard tree does not produce mustard seeds used to make mustard products, but rather produces a fleshy fruit that is very sweet. The mustard tree has many other names, and caring for the tree is simple.
The mustard tree is not a tree at all but is classified as an evergreen shrub. The tree grows to about 20 feet high and has an irregular shape. It is nearly as wide as it is tall. The branches start to grow very low to the ground. The mustard tree leaves are oval and can be light or dark green depending on their age. Mustard tree flowers are green or yellow and grow in long tendrils. Fruit for the mustard tree is purple, with pink and purple seeds.
Mustard tree branches are used as toothbrushes in some rural communities, as the branches contain ingredients that resist bacteria and plaque. The fruit is edible and contains many nutrients. The seeds are also edible. The tree is used for shade, and because of its low growth height the mustard tree makes an ideal landscaping tree. The tree shoots are also edible and feed people and animals.
The mustard tree originates from Persia. It grows best in hot, dry climates. The ideal soil for the mustard tree is sandy and well-drained. The mustard tree can grow in U.S. hardiness zones 7 to 11. Humid temperatures and climates may stunt the growth of the tree or cause mould problems.
Provide the tree with well-drained soil. The tree does not need watering, nor does it require many nutrients for healthy growth. Regular, well-drained garden soil is enough to provide the tree with a healthy life. The fruit should be harvested as soon as it is ripe. Prune any dead branches in summer.
The official name of the mustard tree is Salvadora persica. The tree is also known as the toothbrush tree because of its history as a tool of dental hygiene. The name mustard tree comes from the colour of the blossoms. In Arabic the tree is called the Aarak tree.