The Plant
The Plant continued

The average yield per acre is from 4 to 5 tons. The same ground yields a crop every three or four years, the fourth-year growth being the best. That of the third year and earlier is deficient in sweet substances, but immediately after the fourth year the texture begins to take on a tough, coarse and woody character. It is desirable also to collect the roots of those plants that have never borne fruit since that process exhausts the sweet substance of the sap.

The root of an Indian leguminous plant, Abrus precatorius (Linn.), under the native names of Gunga or Goonteh, has been used as a demulcent. It contains Glycyrrhizin, and has been termed Indian Liquorice and used as a substitute for true Liquorice. Acrid resins, however, render the root irritant and poisonous.

The hard, red, glossy seeds, nearly globular, with a large, black spot at one end, are known as Prayer Beads, or Jequirity seeds. The seeds, weighing about 1 carat each, have been used in India from very ancient times for the purpose of weighing gold, under the name of Rati. They are largely employed also for the making of rosaries and for ornamental purposes. There is also a variety with perfectly white seeds.

The medical importance of the seeds is not great, but they have a notorious history in India as an agent in criminal poisoning. This practice has been directed chiefly against cattle and other livestock, but the poisoning of human beings has been not infrequent. That the attractive seeds form dangerous playthings for children has been proved by the records of a number of cases of poisoning which have occurred in this way. The name Wild Liquorice has also been given to Aralia nudicaulis (Linn.), indigenous to Canada and the United States, and to the root of Cephalanthus occidentalis, a member of the Madder family, a large shrub, with rich, glossy foliage, growing in swamps almost throughout the United States and extending into Southern Canada, the bark and stem of which is used commercially.


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