Toothbrush Tree

(Salvadora persica) Toothbrush Tree, so called because the twigs are used as such in Africa (Dale & Greenway), apparently with good reason, for when chewed, the stem releases juices that seem to have a protective anti-bacterial effect. An extract from this tree is now incorporated in some commercial toothpastes (Lewington). When a Kikuyu (Kenya) smith forged a sword or spear, he would rub it with a piece of kianduri wood, kianduri being the local name for this tree, and at the same time speak an incantation over it to the effect of: "If the owner of this meets with an enemy, may you go straight and kill your adversary; but if you are launched at one who has no evil in his heart, may you miss him and pass on either side without entering his body" (Hobley). This is also known as Mustard Tree, because the berries are slightly aromatic, and pungent, like cress. It is said to be commonly used in the Near East just like mustard, and in the opinion of some, this is the mustard tree of the Bible (F G Savage).

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