AskDefine | Define mucilage

Dictionary Definition



1 a gelatinous substance secreted by plants
2 cement consisting of a sticky substance that is used as an adhesive [syn: glue, gum]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈmjuːsɪlədʒ/


  1. A thick gluey substance (gum) produced by many plants and some microorganisms.

Extensive Definition

Mucilage is a gooey polar glycoprotein; an exopolysaccharide; a polymer produced by most plants and some microorganisms.
It occurs in various parts of nearly all classes of plant, usually in relatively small percentages, and is frequently associated with other substances, such as tannins and alkaloids.
Mucilage in plants is thought to aid in water storage and seed germination, and to act as a membrane thickener and food reserve. Among the richest sources are cacti (and other succulents), and flax seeds.
Mucilage has a unique purpose in some carnivorous plants. The plant genera Drosera (Sundews), Pinguicula, and others have leaves studded with mucilage-secreting glands, and use a "flypaper trap" to capture insects.
Exopolysaccharides are the most stabilising factor for microaggregates and are widely distributed in soils. Therefore exopolysaccharide-producing "soil algae" play a vital role in the ecology of the world's soils. The substance covers the outside of, for example, unicellular or filamentous green algae and cyanobacteria. Amongst the green algae especially, the group Volvocales are known to produce exopolysaccharides in a certain part of their life cycle.

Human uses

Mucilage is edible, but tastes rather bland. It is used in medicine for its demulcent properties. Traditionally marshmallows were made from the extract of the mucilaginous root of the marshmallow plant and due to the demulcent nature of the extract, worked as a cough suppressant. Some carnivorous plants with mucilage are used for the traditional production of a dairy product in Sweden, called filmjölk.
During the fermentation of natto soybean, extracellular enzymes produced by Bacillus natto react with soybean sugars to produce mucilage. The amount and viscosity of the mucilage are important natto characteristics and contribute to natto’s unique taste and smell.

Plant sources

The following plants are known to contain far greater concentrations of mucilage than is typically found in most plants:

An adhesive

Mucilage is also a term for an adhesive composed of a solution of a sticky vegetable product or vegetable gum in water, used primarily to seal paper (e.g., postage stamps and envelope flaps).

External links

  • Mucilage McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 5th edition
  • Mucilage Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition (2007)
mucilage in German: Schleimstoffe
mucilage in French: Mucilage
mucilage in Italian: Mucillagine

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1