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tragacanth

tragacanth (trăg´əkănth) or gum tragacanth, gummy exudation from the leguminous shrub Astragalus gummifer and related pulse family plants of SE Europe and W Asia. It is obtained through incisions in the stem of the plant. The gum is produced chiefly in Iran. Tragacanth is almost insoluble in water but swells in it to form a stiff gel. It is used as an emulsifying agent, as a component of pills, hand lotions, and medicinal lubricating jellies, as a demulcent, and as a sizing material. A gum (sometimes called Indian tragacanth) from a plant of the sterculia family is sold as a cheaper substitute. See gum.

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tragacanth

tragacanth medicinal gum from plants of the genus Astragalus. XVI. — F. tragacante or L. tragacantha — Gr. tragákantha goat's-thorn, f. trágos he-goat + ákantha thorn.

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gum tragacanth

gum tragacanth Obtained from the trees of Astralagus spp., used as a stabilizer.

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gum tragacanth

gum tragacanth: see tragacanth.

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Tragacanth

TRAGACANTH

TRAGACANTH (Heb. נְכֹאת, nekhot). The identification of tragacanth with nekhot is attested by its Arabic name Rathirā ʾ. It was included in spices carried by the caravan of Ishmaelites from Gilead on their journey to Egypt (Gen. 37:25), as well as in the gift sent by Jacob to the ruler of Egypt (43:11). It is the aromatic sap of a species of Astragalus which is called τραγακανδα in Greek. These are plants of the family Papilionaceae, short prickly shrubs which exude a sap when the roots or stalks are split open. Tens of species of Astragalus grow in Israel but these do not exude the nekhot. This is obtained from the species that grow in east Asia and the mountains of Syria and Lebanon. In former times it was used as incense but today it is used for medicinal purposes.

bibliography:

Loew, Flora, 2 (1924), 419ff.; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 274–5.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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