Tragacanth

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

tragacanth is a gum exudate obtained from various species of wild goat thorn (Astragalus spp.) native to the Mediterranean and Middle East. It is most commonly harvested from the Mediterranean species A. massiliensis (Miller) Lam. and from the Asiatic A. brachycalyx Fisch., which grows in Lebanon, Iran, and Syria. Both are dense, thorny shrubs that favor rocky hillsides. The sap exudes naturally from the lower branches in June, and in the heat of the day it coagulates into irregular ribbons and long vermicular strands of dry white gum. In commercial culture, both the lower branches and upper roots are slashed to encourage the release of the sap. Most of the world’s supply currently comes from Iran. It usually appears in commerce as a fine, cream-colored powder. It has also been referred to in culinary literature as Syrian tragacanth, adragant, and gum dragon.