Arak Tree


Scientific Name: Salvadora persica

Arabic Name: Miswak  مسواك

The oldest toothbrush in the world – commonly known as “Miswak” in Arabic – comes from the Arak tree, a small mustard tree with a wide crown of crooked, drooping branches that has been used as a toothbrush for centuries! This traditional and “natural” toothbrush is made from the twigs of the tree, and the tree grows mainly in Saudi Arabia, but also in other parts of the Middle East and Africa. It is widespread particularly in thorn shrubs, desert floodplains, river and stream bank vegetation, and prefers areas where groundwater is readily available. It can also be found in valleys and on dunes. The tree is able to tolerate a very dry environment where low annual rainfall occurs.

The use of the Miswak can be traced back to the pre-Islamic times hence, the significant influence of Islam on the usage and spread of Miswak in the world. It is mentioned in Sunnah because of its strong antibacterial properties as a teeth-cleaning twig, but it also has many other uses such as wood for fuel, and the branches and leaves are food for animals. Another feature of the Arak tree is the small and fragrant greenish to yellowish flowers that smell like coffee!

Unfortunately, like most medicinal plants, the Arak tree is under threat in the Arabian Peninsula to overexploitation for its great medicinal and commercial benefits.  

Nature sites where you can see Miswak in its natural habitat: 


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