(Astragalus densissimus)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Astragalus densissimus
Leguminosae

Gum tragacanth is obtained from the stem (see above). It has a wide range of uses including:- a thickening agent in preparing dyes for calico printing, textile dyes and for dressing fabrics, it is also a thickener in making glues, water colours, ink (where it supplies a gloss), it is a binding agent in paper making, a culture medium in laboratories etc[64, 74].

  • Medicinal Use

    None known

  • Edible Use

    A source of gum tragacanth – used as a thickener in confections[74]. Some exudes naturally, more can be obtained by incision of the stem about 5cm below ground level[64]. It is difficult to incise the stem of this species due to its shape[74].

  • Cautionary Notes

    Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides[65]. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage[85]. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element[65].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[200]. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate[200]. Stored seed, and perhaps also fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in hot water before sowing – but make sure that you do not cook the seed[134, 200]. Any seed that does not swell should be carefully pricked with a needle, taking care not to damage the embryo, and re-soaked for a further 24 hours[134, 200]. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 – 9 weeks or more at 13¡c if the seed is treated or sown fresh[134]. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it could succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. Whilst it is likely to tolerate low temperatures it may not be so happy with a wet winter. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Requires a dry well-drained soil in a sunny position[1]. Succeeds in poor soils[200]. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and are best planted in their final positions whilst still small[200]. This plant is a sub-shrub and although it produces woody stems these tend to die back almost to the base each winter. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]. Many members of this genus can be difficult to grow, this may be due partly to a lack of their specific bacterial associations in the soil[200].
C. Asia.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.