DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Psyllium seed (Plantago ovata), coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). The genus Plantago contains over 200 species; two species (P. ovata and P. psyllium) are important commercially in having seed husks that are used in herbal medicine as a laxative. Psyllium seed husks (also known as ispaghula, isabgol, or psyllium) are the outer seed coats that are high in fibre and mucilage content. The husks are soluble in water, expanding and becoming mucilaginous when wet. Psyllium seed husks are indigestible in human beings and are thus used as a source of dietary fibre. Psyllium is produced mainly for its mucilage content, which is highest in P. ovata. The term mucilage describes a group of clear, colourless, gelling agents derived from plants. Mucilage is obtained by mechanical milling of the outer layer of the seed. The milled seed mucilage is a white fibrous material that is hydrophilic and strongly binds to water. Magnification: x11 at 35 mm.
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