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In botany, an adhesive substance of vegetable origin, mostly obtained as exudate from the bark of trees or shrubs belonging to the pea family. Gum arabic (from a species of acacia) is used in lithography. Gum tragacanth (from several shrub species in the genus Astragalus) is used as a coating and binding agent in pill manufacture, as an emulsifier in processed foods, and as a thickener in sauces. Some plant gums are used in the manufacture of cosmetics.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on gum, visit Britannica.com.