- n Pithecolobium thorny shrubs and trees of tropical and subtropical America and Asia
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n pithecolobium A genus of leguminous shrubs or trees, of the tribe Ingeæ, known by the peculiar rigid pods, which are two-valved and flattened, curved, curled, or twisted, and somewhat fleshy. There are about 110 species, widely dispersed in the tropics, especially of America and Asia. They are either unarmed or thorny with axillary or stipular spines. They bear glandular bipinnate leaves of many small or few larger leaflets, and globose heads of white flowers, with long and very numerous stamens. The most important species, P. dulce, a large tree native of.Mexico, and there called guamuchil, contains in its pods a sweet pulp, for which they are boiled and eaten. Introduced into the Philippine Islands, and thence into India, it is now cultivated there under the name Manila tamarind. (Compare tamarind.) Several other species produce edible pods, as P. filifolium, the wild tamarind tree of Jamaica, a large tree distinguished by the twice-pinnate leaves from the true tamarind, whose leaves are once-pinnate; and P. Saman, the genisaro, also called saman, zamang, and rain-tree. The bark of some species yields a gum, that of others an astringent drug, and that of others, as P. bigeminum, the soap-bark tree, and P. micradenium, the savonette or shagbark of the West Indies, is a source of soap. Several other species are cultivated as hardy evergreen trees under the name curl brush-bean. A smaller species, usually a shrub, is the cat's-claw, also called nephritic tree or black bead-tree, of Jamaica. See also algarrobilla.