Skip to main content
Select Source:

ergot

ergot (ûr´gət), disease of rye and other cereals caused by the fungus Claviceps purpurea. The cottony, matlike body, or mycelium, of the fungus develops in the ovaries of the host plant; it eventually turns into a hard pink or purple body, the sclerotium, or ergot, that resembles a grain of rye in shape. The sclerotium contains alkaloids (many of which are biologically active) that are toxic to humans and livestock. Ergot poisoning, or ergotism, epidemic in the Middle Ages, results from eating bread made of rye contaminated with ergot. Ergot poisoning is characterized by constriction of blood vessels, resulting in numbness and the development of gangrene in extremities; it may also affect the nervous system. Some of the alkaloids in ergot, e.g., ergotamine and ergonovine, are used as medicines; these alkaloids are chemical derivatives of lysergic acid, which is used in the synthesis of the hallucinogen LSD. Ergotamine alleviates migraine headaches. Ergonovine is used medicinally to stop hemorrhage and cause contraction of the uterus; during the 17th cent. midwives used ergot to stop postpartum uterine bleeding.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ergot." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ergot." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ergot

"ergot." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ergot

ergot

ergot A fungus that grows on grasses and cereal grains; the ergot of medical importance is Claviceps purpurea, which grows on rye. The consumption of infected rye is harmful, causing the disease known as St Anthony's fire (ergotism), and can be fatal. The first connection with infected rye (spurred rye, so‐called because the grain heads of infected rye appear spurred) was recorded by physicians in Marbourg (France) in 1597.

The active principles in ergot are alkaloids (ergotinine, ergotoxine, ergotamine, ergometrine, etc.), which yield lysergic acid on hydrolysis. Its effect is to increase the tone and contraction of smooth muscle, particularly of the pregnant uterus. For this reason ergot has been used in obstetrics.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ergot." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ergot." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot

"ergot." A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot

ergot

ergot The dark hard-walled mass of hyphae produced by the fungus Claviceps purpurea (see Ascomycota) in the grain of the cereals and other grasses that it parasitizes. Ergots are the sclerotia of this species – resting bodies that germinate in favourable conditions to produce mycelia or ascocarps. They contain alkaloids related to LSD, which cause blood vessels to constrict and are used therapeutically in the treatment of migraine and haemorrhage. Ingestion of infected grain can result in ergot poisoning (ergotism), with symptoms of gangrene and hallucinations – known as `St Anthony's fire' in the Middle Ages.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ergot." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ergot." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot-1

"ergot." A Dictionary of Biology. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot-1

ergot

ergot(St Anthony's fire) A disease which affects many grasses, including cereals. It is caused by the fungus Claviceps purpurea; the conspicuous, hard, black sclerotia of the fungus replace the grain in the spikelets of an infected plant. These sclerotia contain alkaloids which can cause severe poisoning or even death if ingested by humans or other animals.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ergot." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ergot." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot

"ergot." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot

ergot

ergot A disease that affects many grasses, including cereals. It is caused by the fungus Claviceps purpurea; the conspicuous, hard, black sclerotia of the fungus replace the grain in the spikelets of an infected plant. These sclerotia contain alkaloids which can cause severe poisoning or even death if ingested by animals or humans.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ergot." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ergot." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot-0

"ergot." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot-0

ergot

ergot (er-got) n. a fungus (Claviceps purpurea) that grows on rye. It produces several important alkaloids, including ergotamine and ergometrine. See also ergotism.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ergot." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ergot." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot

"ergot." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot

ergot

ergot disease of rye. XVII. — F. ergot, OF. ar(i)-got, argor cock's spur, of unkn. orig.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ergot." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ergot." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot-0

"ergot." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot-0

ergot

ergotbraggart, faggot (US fagot), maggot •legate •bigot, gigot, Piggott, spigot •ingot • profligate • aggregate • yogurt •conjugate • abrogate • surrogate •ergot, virgate •Bagehot • patriarchate • wainscot •Sickert • predicate • syndicate •certificate, pontificate •Calicut • delicate • silicate • triplicate •duplicate, quadruplicate •intricate • Connecticut • Alcott •ducat • advocate •ballot, palate •charlotte, harlot •appellate, Helot, prelate, zealot •flagellate • distillate •Pilate, pilot •copilot • gyropilot • autopilot •triangulate •ejaculate, immaculate •amulet • spatulate •articulate, denticulate •consulate, proconsulate •postulate • ungulate •inviolate, ultraviolet •chocolate • cardinalate • desolate •isolate • disconsolate • Merlot

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"ergot." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"ergot." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot

"ergot." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved December 10, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ergot