Toothbrush Tree   
Foto info
Toothbrush Tree
ative Photo: Amber Srivastava
Common name: Toothbrush Tree, Mustard tree, Salt brush, • Hindi: मेस्वाक meswak, पिलु पीलू Peelu • Marathi: khakan, पिलु pilu • Tamil: உகா uka • Telugu: గున్నంగి gunnangi • Kannada: ಗೊನಿಮರ gonimara • Sanskrit: गुडफल gudaphala, पिलु pilu
Botanical name: Salvadora persica    Family: Salvadoraceae (Salvadora family)

The toothbrush tree is a small tree or shrub with a crooked trunk, seldom more than one foot in diameter, its bark scabrous and cracked, whitish with pendulous extremities. The root bark of the tree is light brown and the inner surfaces are white, the odour is like cress and its taste is warm and pungent. Its fibrous branches have been used as toothbrushes by many Islamic communities — miswaks. Leaves oblong-elliptic to almost circular, 3 x 7 cm, light to dark green, rather fleshy, sometimes with wartlike glandular dots and dense, rather loose hairs; apex broadly tapering to rounded, sharp-tipped; base broadly tapering; margin entire; petiole up to 10 mm long; leaves in opposite pairs. Flowers greenish to yellowish, very small, in loose, slender-branched axillary or terminal panicles, up to 10 cm long. Fruit spherical, fleshy, 5-10 mm in diameter, pink to scarlet when mature, single seeded; seeds turn from pink to purple-red and are semi-transparent when mature. The generic name was given in 1749 in honour of an apothecary of Barcelona, Juan Salvador y Bosca (1598-1681), by Dr Laurent Garcin, botanist, traveller and plant collector. The true specimen of this species came, as the specific name indicates, from Persia.

Identification credit: Dinesh Valke Photographed at Vaghbil, Thane, Maharashtra.

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