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Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Gram

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GRAM, or Chick-pea, called also Egyptian Pea, or Bengal Gram (Hindi, chaná ; Bengali, chholá ; Italian, cece ; Spanish, garbanzo), an herbaceous, annual, leguminous plant, the Cicer arietinum of Linnæus, so named from the resemblance of its seed to a ram's head, is a native of the south of Europe and India. Its leaves are imparipinnate, with ovate, equal, and serrate leaflets ; the flowers are axillary, and of a bluish-purple colour, and bloom in India from September to October ; and the pods have a length of 1 to 1½ inch, and contain either one or two somewhat pointed and commonly pale yellow seeds, about 3 lines long. Gram is largely cultivated in the East, where the seeds are eaten raw, or cooked and prepared in various ways, both in their ripe and unripe condition, and when roasted and ground are made to subserve the same purposes as ordinary flour. In Europe the seeds are used as an ingredient in soups. They contain, in 100 parts without husks, nitrogenous substances 22·7, fat 3·76, starch 63·18, mineral matters 2·6 parts, with water (Forbes Watson, quoted in Parkes's Hygiene). The liquid which exudes from the glandular hairs clothing the leaves and stems of the plant, more especially during the cold season, when the seeds ripen, contains a notable proportion of oxalic acid, and is said to be very injurious to the leather shoes of those who walk through fields of gram. In Mysore the dew containing it is collected by means of cloths spread on the plant over night, and is valued as a remedy for dyspepsia, indigestion, and costiveness. The steam of water in which the fresh plant is immersed is in the Deccan resorted to by the Portuguese for the treatment of dysmenorrhœa. The seed of Phaseolus Mungo, Linn., or green gram (Hind., and Beng., moong), a variety of which plant, P. Mungo melanospermus (P. Max, Roxb.), is termed black gram, is an important article of diet among the labouring classes in India, and is annually exported in large quantities from Madras. Soup made from it is considered to be especially suited to sick persons. The meal is an excellent substitute for soap, and is stated by Elliot to be an invariable concomitant of the Hindu bath. P. Roxburghii, W. and Arn., or P. radiatus, Roxb. (Hind., urid ; Beng., máshkalái), which also is known as green gram, is perhaps the most esteemed of the leguminous plants of India, where the meal of its seed enters into the composition of the more delicate cakes and dishes, and is used in medicine both externally and internally. P. aconitifolius goes by the name of Turkish gram. Horse gram, Dolichos uniflorus, Lam. (Hind., and Beng., kulthi), which supplies in Madras the place of the chick-pea, affords seed which, when boiled, is extensively employed as a food for horses and cattle in South India, where also it is eaten in curries, and, made into poultices or pastes, is applied to medicinal purposes. Turkish gram is the Dolichos Catjang of Roxburgh. White gram, Glycine (Soja) hispida, produces the beans from which soy is made. The quantity of gram exported from India in 1876-77, chiefly to Mauritius, Ceylon, and the Straits, amounted to 316,592 cwt., against 322,661 cwt. in the previous year.