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(myo͞o`səlĭj), thick, glutinous substance, related to the natural gums, comprised usually of protein, polysaccharides, and uranides. It swells but does not dissolve in water. Mucilage is secreted by the seed covers of various plants, including marsh mallows and flaxes and certain seaweeds; it is the chief constituent of agar. In the plant it sometimes serves to check the loss of water to aid germination, to facilitate seed dispersal, and to store food. It is used in medicine as an emollient and a demulcent. Mucilage is employed also as an adhesive, and the term is extended to include other slimy adhesives, especially solutions of gum, such as tragacanth mucilage.



a substance of plant origin that forms aqueous viscid solutions. Mucilage is found in seeds, roots, and bark, accumulating primarily in mucilage receptacles.

Chemically and physically similar to gums, mucilage contains branched (galactomannans) and linear (glucomannans) polysaccharides. In many forms of vegetation, including flax, plantain, some plants of the Cruciferae family, elm, and rye grain, it contains uronic acid and a variety of neutral carbohydrates. Mucilage is also found in the cell walls and intercellular substances of red and brown algae, for example, in agar, carra-geenin, and alginic acid.

Mucilage’s ability to swell in water enables seeds to absorb water and swell during germination. An accumulation of mucilage in plant tissues increases resistance to drought. Desert plants, such as cacti and spurges, characteristically have a high mucilage content.

Mucilage is used in the medical, pharmacological, food-processing, and metallurgical industries and in the production of paper, textiles, emulsions, and glues.


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A sticky material employed as an adhesive.
A gummy material derived from plants.


1. An adhesive prepared from a gum and water.
2. A liquid adhesive which has low bonding strength.


1. a sticky preparation, such as gum or glue, used as an adhesive
2. a complex glutinous carbohydrate secreted by certain plants
References in periodicals archive ?
The mucilaginous achenes adhere to the soil surface after they are dispersed during the rainy season.
Always without firm sheaths, but sometimes with mucilaginous, hyaline, colorless envelopes.
Most of the cytoplasm of the canal cells has decomposed into an amorphous mucilaginous material, which moves towards the opening of the archegonium when met with water (Fig.
Fungal reactions triggered by the presence of copper include the formation of a thicker cell wall and increased proportion of extracellular mucilaginous material (ECMM).
The mucilaginous properties of slippery elm bark also rendered it useful to certain pitchers during baseball's "deadball era" between 1900 and 1920.
Greaves ME Darbyshire JF (1972) The ultrastructure of the mucilaginous layer on plant roots.
Authorities say the prime season for stealing is mid-June and early July, when the bark is mucilaginous and easy to peel.
Moreover, brown and red algae contain polysaccharides like alginates, fucoidans, laminarans and galactans that make their cells mucilaginous, hence, absorbent to minerals and other nutrients (Giusti 2001, Hashim & Chu 2004, Lodeiro et al.
I can't recall the specific conversation over dinner, but apparently it was me who suggested to him that desert foods bind water so tightly with high concentrations of mucilaginous fibre that it led to an adaptation to slowly released carbohydrates in the humans who ate them.
Both are mucilaginous, which means that when you put them in water, they absorb a lot of water and form a gel, softening and increasing the size of solid wastes.
While many bacteria and viruses fall within HEPA and electrostatic capture ranges, some pathogens that are capable of movement might be able to pass through the filter media, and the mucilaginous coatings of some bacteria might affect the filter's ability to trap them.
However, researchers have shown a strong link between plankton and aquatic bacteria, and a number of planktonic species concentrate pathogens within their mucilaginous sheaths and eggs (43,67).