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12 Important Mustard Tree Facts You Need To Know About

Also known as the “toothbrush tree,” the scientific name of the mustard tree is Salvadora persica. The tree has been mentioned in Roman and Greek literature, with the Bible perhaps the oldest book mentioning the mustard plant along with mentions in the parables of Peter, Luke, and Mark.

Did you know the mustard plant was first known for its medicinal properties before being used in the culinary world? The Greeks used it to cure toothache and improve blood circulation. Interested to know more about this plant? Keep reading!

12 Important Mustard Tree Facts You Need To Know About

Facts

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#1. Mustard Tree Size

The mustard tree can reach an average height of 20 feet with branches close to the ground. Its width can also grow as much as its height, which is why horticulturists classify it as an evergreen shrub.

Some mustard trees only grow up to 6 feet while some can reach up to 30 feet, depending on the variety and conditions.

#2. Lifespan

The growth of the mustard tree depends on its surrounding environment. It has water-seeking roots, which means the tree can survive in extremely hot and dry soil.

There are a variety of mustard plants, but most are annual plants. This means that they have one growing cycle in a year, for approximately 2-3 months.

#3. Leaf and Flower Appearance

Mustard leaves are oval with a yellowish-green color and have a succulent-like texture. The leaves can be 1-3 inches long and start with a dark green color that lightens over time.

Since this is a flowering plant, the mustard tree grows tiny yellow flowers annually on the tendril-like branch tip. They are fragrant and gradually develop pink berries.

#4. Fruit Appearance

The small flowers become the fruit that transforms into a berry, sometimes called pods. These berries are small and can be unnoticeable. They are pink or red in color and can be eaten either dried or fresh.

#5. Origin

The word “mustard” comes from the Latin “mustum” meaning “must” or “fresh cut grapes” and “ardens” meaning “flaming hot.” Combined, they formed the French “moutarde,” which then became the Anglo-Norman “mustarde.”

While there is no scientific consensus about where the mustard tree may have come from, many believe it originated in Western Asia (Persia, now known as Iran) since we can still find wild mustard there today. There are Greek and Roman historical records showing commercial production of the tree.

There are also records dating back to 3000 BC from the Sumerians or the ancient Indus Valley civilization records from 2500 BC.

Today, the mustard plant is commonly found in Canada, the UK, and the US, where it is grown for commercial use.

#6. Variety

There are different varieties of mustard, but the three major ones are white, black, and brown mustard.

The white mustard (Sinapis alba) produces tiny rounded seeds that are light yellow, about 0.1 inches in diameter.

The black mustard (Brassica nigra) produces tiny hard globular seeds and is spicier in flavor.

The brown mustard (Brassica juncea) also has small hard, round seeds with a darker yellow color and less taste.

Variety

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#7. Cultivation Requirement

Mustard can be grown easily in most soils. It produces the most seeds in well-drained and prepared soil, while it produces seeds faster in drier and hotter weather.

The pods should be soaked in lukewarm water for 1-3 days, then the seeds are collected in a cloth while maintaining the moisture to ensure quick germination.

If you plant the seeds in damp soil, you can expect germination within 24 hours. You can then transfer the germinated seeds to a nursing pot for a couple of weeks, and then transplant them to a clear weedless garden 12-15 feet apart.

For the first summer, the plants must be watered weekly for good root growth. Since mustard is a water-seeking plant, make sure to avoid planting them near water lines or septic tanks since they may cause damage.

#8. Growth Stage

There are eight growth stages in a mustard tree’s life cycle. The first is germination from a dry seed until a bud emerges through the soil, followed by the second stage of leaf development when the bud unfolds and multiple leaves develop.

The third stage is stem elongation where multiple visible stems extend, the fourth stage is inflorescence emergence where the first visible petals emerge, and the fifth stage is flowering where the first flower opens until most of the flowers have fallen.

The sixth stage is fruit development starting from 10% of the pods reach full size until almost all pods are full-sized, the seventh stage is ripening from green seeds filling the pod cavity until all pods are ripe, and finally, the eighth stage is senescence in which the plant dries, dies, or the product is harvested.

#9. Maturation

Mustard trees are fast-growing. Its roots are usually firmly grounded in about 4-5 weeks, and the first blossoms can be expected within 6 weeks.

Different varieties can reach maturity within 80-95 days on average, but when a mustard tree matures, it is low maintenance.

#10. Source Of Nutrients

The mustard plant and seeds are used as appetite enhancers since they are high in fiber, vitamin C, K, and A, potassium, selenium, and calcium. The seeds do not contain cholesterol, just trace amounts of vegetable fat and a small amount of protein. The leaves of the mustard plant are also rich in phosphorus, calcium, vitamin B, copper, and magnesium.

#11. Source Of Antioxidants

The two main antioxidants found in mustard are isothiocyanates and sinigrin. These antioxidants can help prevent cancer metastases and possess antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties.

#12. Protects From Certain Diseases

Because of the high content of nutrients and antioxidants in mustard, it is believed to help prevent illnesses and diseases like cancer, arthritis, asthma, and hypertension.


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