Fenugreek - Encyclopedia




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FENUGREEK, in botany, Trigonella Foenum-graecum (so called from the name given to it by the ancients, who used it as fodder for cattle), a member of a genus of leguminous herbs very similar in habit and in most of their characters to the species of the genus Medicago. The leaves are formed of three obovate leaflets, the middle one of which is stalked; the flowers are solitary, or in clusters of two or three, and have a campanulate. 5-cleft calyx; and the pods are many-seeded, cylindrical or flattened, and straight or only slightly curved. The genus is widely diffused over the south of Europe, West and Central Asia, and the north of Africa, and is represented by several species in Australia. Fenugreek is indigenous to south-eastern Europe and western Asia, and is cultivated in the Mediterranean region, parts of central Europe, and in Morocco, and largely in Egypt and in India. It bears a sickle-shaped pod, containing from Io to 20 seeds, from which 6% of a fetid, fatty and bitter oil can be extracted by ether. In India the fresh plant is employed as an esculent. The seed is an ingredient in curry powders, and is used for flavouring cattle foods. It was formerly much esteemed as a medicine, and is still in repute in veterinary practice.

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