Last Updated on October 1, 2021
The mustard, scientifically known as Salvadora perisica, is a popular evergreen shrub that can grow to a height of 20 feet and produce a crown nearly as wide.
But as you shall find, the actual size of a mature mustard tree largely depends on the specific plant variety and growing conditions. Some trees can grow to a paltry six feet tall, whereas others can achieve an impressive height of 30 feet.
If you’re planning to add a mustard tree to your home garden, it’s prudent to begin by learning everything there is to know about the plant. And if you’re looking for a resourceful guide into mustards, then you’re in luck.
In this post, we highlight 20 interesting facts about the mustard tree. Some of these are basic details that any aspiring mustard cultivator would need to know. Others are simply mind-blowing mustard facts that might make you fall deeper in love with these exotic bushes.
Table of Contents
- 1. Tree size and leaf appearance
- 2. Flower and fruit appearance
- 3. Origin
- 4. Etymology
- 5. Ideal growing conditions
- 6. Varieties
- 7. Cultivation requirements
- 8. Growth stages
- 9. Maturation
- 10. Lifespan
- 11. Reproduction
- 12. Uses
- 13. Spiritual benefits
- 14. Safety concerns
- 15. Production
- 16. Consumption
- 17. Recognition in art
- 18. Recognition in literature
- 19. Recognition in linguistics
- 20. Mustard seeds aren’t the smallest
1. Tree size and leaf appearance
As we’ve just mentioned, mustards can grow to a height of 20 feet and spread nearly as wide. Depending on varieties and climatic conditions, some mustard trees can grow to be as short as 6 feet or as tall as 30 feet.
Mustard trees produce oval leaves, which usually appear in sets of two on opposite ends of the stem. The leaves generally start out as dark-green but continually progress to yellowish-green as the tree ages.
Mustard leaves are fairly fleshy and succulent. A regular leaf can measure 3 inches long and 1 inch wide.
2. Flower and fruit appearance
Mustards are flowering plants. They produce small green or yellowish flowers along 12-inch-long tendrils.
The flowers eventually develop into ½-inch-diameter pink or scarlet berries, which are distinguishable by their striking translucency.
The mustard tree originated in Persia (modern-day Iran). The shrub is still fairly widespread around this region.
Other common places you’ll find the mustard tree include in the Orient, northern Africa, and the East Indies.
However, due to its incredible resilience and adaptability, mustard is now common in various countries around the world. The tree is commercially cultivated in Canada, the US, the UK, and Denmark.
The word mustard comes from two Latin words “mustum ardens,” which loosely translates to ‘burning wine.’
That’s due to the unique flavor that results from mixing powdered mustard seeds with wine grapes.
5. Ideal growing conditions
Mustards thrive in hot and arid climate, which happens to be the very conditions that prevail in the tree’s native region – Iran. The trees also do well in well-draining, sandy soil.
However, mustards are highly prone to mold growth. Therefore, they’re least suited for humid conditions.
In the United States, mustards thrive in the south, within hardlines zones 7 through 11.
There are around 40 different mustard varieties. The most common ones include the white, black, and brown mustards.
Besides these three major varieties, there are numerous other mustard cultivars. Examples include Florida Broadleaf, Southern Giant Curled, Green Wave, Red Giant, Tendergreen, to mention but a few.
7. Cultivation requirements
Mature mustards are relatively low-maintenance plants. However, the trees may benefit from early care.
For off, it’s important to begin by soaking mustard seeds to ensure quick germination. It’s also recommended to grow the seeds in nursery pots and care for them for a couple of weeks before transplanting them to the garden.
When planting mustard seedlings, be sure to clear the site of any weeds and bushes. Then, plant the trees about 12 to 15 feet apart.
Next, water the plants regularly (preferably weekly) to encourage root penetration. In the same breath, note that mustard roots are deep-penetrating and water-seeking. Therefore, avoid planting mustards near septic systems as their roots may cause damage.
8. Growth stages
Mustard trees go through eight growth stages during their life cycle.
• Leaf development
• Stem elongation
• Inflorescence emergence
• Fruit development
Mustards are among the fastest-growing garden trees out there.
The plants typically cover the ground within four to five weeks of planting them. By this time, the roots are usually already firmly grounded into the soil.
Yellow mustard varieties can reach full maturity in as few as 80 days. Other varieties, such as the brown and Oriental mustards, normally mature within 90 to 95 days.
In terms of flowering, you can expect the first mustard blossoms within six weeks.
Most mustard varieties are annual plants. Which implies that they have one life cycle in one year (or within their 80 – 95 days lifespan).
However, some varieties are biennial – have two life cycles in a year.
Mustards are bisexual plants, which implies that an individual mustard tree can have both male and female reproductive organs.
However, the trees are somewhat inefficient at self-pollination. They mostly rely on insects like bees to pollinate them.
The mustard tree has a variety of applications. Extracts from the plant are widely used in the manufacture of toothbrushes. That’s due to the tree’s antibacterial properties, which may come in handy in preventing plaque.
Mustard fruits and seeds may also be consumed as nutritious supplements. They can be eaten raw or used as ingredients in various cuisines. The seeds have been cited for their abundance in dietary fiber as well as vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and selenium. In places like the Punjab regions, dried mustard fruits are popular flavor enhancers and appetite boosters.
Notable medical conditions that mustard may help with include:
• Blood disorders like hypertension
• Headaches and migraine
Mustard is also considered an ornamental plant and makes an excellent addition to home gardens. It’s especially noted for its low branches and wide spread, which may provide a natural shade in your home garden.
13. Spiritual benefits
Besides their immense therapeutic and nutritional applications, mustards may also have spiritual uses.
In India and Denmark, it’s believed that spreading mustard seeds along the perimeter of a house may help to ward off evil spirits.
14. Safety concerns
Numerous studies have found that mustard oil could be unsafe for human consumption.
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mustard oil contains erucic acid. Long-term consumption of this acid may cause heart disease.
Although mustards are native to Asia, Canada holds the record for the world’s largest manufacturer of mustard seeds.
The country accounts for up to 50% of globally consumed mustard seeds.
Mustards are among the world’s most widely consumed plants. About 700 million pounds of mustard-based products are consumed worldwide every year.
North America accounts for the highest percentage of the world’s annual mustard consumption.
17. Recognition in art
Did you know that the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum in Wisconsin is dedicated exclusively to the mustard tree?
The museum boasts over 5,000 jars of mustard plants drawn from over 60 countries and 50 states.
18. Recognition in literature
The Bible is probably the earliest literature material where the mustard plant is widely mentioned. Classic examples of Biblical allusions to the mustard are found in the Parables of Jesus in the gospel books.
A 1912 book, titled “The Mustard Tree: An Argument on Behalf of the Divinity of Christ,” also contains numerous references to the mustard.
19. Recognition in linguistics
There’s a popular saying that goes “can’t cut the mustard.” It basically means ‘can’t live up to a challenge.’
However, language experts have been struggling to find a nexus between this phrase and mustards. That’s especially considering how remarkably easy it is to slice or even cultivate the plant.
20. Mustard seeds aren’t the smallest
Mustard seeds are widely considered the smallest seeds in the plant kingdom. The seeds measure about 2 millimeters in diameter. In fact, according to the Bible, you only need faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains.
But unknown to many people, mustard seeds aren’t the smallest seeds available. With their 2 mm diameter, mustard seeds are still significantly bigger than orchid seeds.
Have you been toying with the idea of adding a mustard tree to your home garden but didn’t have enough incentive to do so?
Well, after going through the various fascinating facts about mustards, we hope you can finally make the decision from a point of information.