Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Arak, Khara Jal, Miswak, Meswak, Mustard Tree, Pilu, Saltbush, Siwak, Toothbrush Tree
Salvadora persica

Family: Salvadoraceae
Genus: Salvadora (sal-va-DOR-a) (Info)
Species: persica (PER-see-kuh) (Info)

Synonym:Salvadora wightiana

6 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible


2 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive DannyJoe On Sep 1, 2013, DannyJoe from York, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

One source says hardy to zone 7.
Does anyone know if this is true?

Positive nalin1 On Oct 13, 2006, nalin1 from New Delhi
India (Zone 10a) wrote:

The miswak or pilu is an arid zone salt tolerant shrub or small tree native to India, Africa, the Middle East and used as a ‘toothbrush tree’. Its natural habitats are near mangroves, in saline lands, swamps, thorn shrubs, desert flood plains, and grassy savannah, in seasonally wet sites, and along drainage lines in arid zones. It also found near riverbanks and where ground water levels are high, and so can tolerate a wide range of water, soil and soil pH.

Twigs of this shrub are used as a chewing stick and extracts from the wood are used in modern formulations for dental care. In islamic tradition and in muslim countries this shrub is highly regarded for dental care and it is said that Prophet Mohammad himself recommended its use.

On cutting, the tree coppices well and consequently develops more twigs for use as chewing sticks. In numerous studies the plant extracts from the bark (salvadoricine), roots and twigs have shown great antimicrobial properties. The Dabur company in India makes a toothpaste called ‘meswak’ using these extracts, and in the USA ‘the Peelu Company’ has made this as their mainstay ingredient in their many dental products.

Salvadora p. seeds contain edible oil high in lauric, myristic and palmitic oils which can substitute for coconut oil, and also have potential in making soap, candles and cosmetic. The leaves are high in moisture content and make for good fodder. The seeds germinate rapidly (24-48 hours) in an appropriate growing medium. (The fruit pulp should be removed as the pulp contains germination inhibitors.)

This is a most beneficial shrub to have in the home garden as it can be kept to a manageable size while yielding a useful product for dental care and as a mouth freshener. An easy to care for plant.

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