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mucilage(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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N. D. GABRIELIAN