Tragacanth is a natural gum obtained from the dried sap of several species of Middle Eastern legumes of the genus Astragalus, including A. adscendens, A. gummifer, A. brachycalyx, and A. tragacanthus. Some of these species are known collectively under the common names "goat's thorn" and "locoweed". The gum is sometimes called "shiraz gum" , "gum elect" or gum dragon. The name derives from tragos and akantha, which means in Greek "goat" and "thorn", respectively. Iran is the biggest producer of the best quality of this gum.
The gum is used in veg-tanned leatherworking as an edge slicking and burnishing compound and is occasionally used as a stiffener in textiles. It contains an alkaloid that has historically been used as a herbal remedy for such conditions as cough and diarrhea. As a mucilage or paste it has been used as a topical treatment for burns. It is used in pharmaceuticals and foods as an emulsifier, thickener, stabilizer, and texturant additive (code E413). Also, it is the traditional binder used in the making of artists' pastels, as it does not adhere to itself the same way other gums (such as gum arabic) do when dry. Gum tragacanth is also used to make a paste used in floral sugarcraft to create life-like flowers on wires used as decorations for cakes. It makes a paste which dries brittle in the air and can take colorings. It enables users to get a very fine, delicate finish to their work. Additionally, it has traditionally been used as an adhesive in the cigar rolling process used to secure the cap or "flag" leaf to the finished cigar body.
Pierre: (gloomily, sternly) It can only mean that our fair France will be driven to the blackness and the death of defeat bv the two-headed hawk of Prussia! Oh, curse these barbarians! Athalie, thou too must curse them, and it shall be as if the Virgin herself cursed!
Athalie: Ah, father, I who have been taught by my pere Arnot to love everything the sun shines upon—can I curse even Prussians? God's justice and His mercy do not need men's curses to sway the scales