Foenugreek seeds are the product of Trigonella Foenum-graecum, Linn. (N.O. Leguminosae), an annual herb, largely cultivated in India, Egypt, and Morocco. They are contained in long, narrow, curved pods, from which they are separated by threshing, when ripe, and dried. The seeds are usually brownish-yellow in colour and rhomboidal in outline; from 3 to 5 millimetres long and about 2 millimetres thick, and exhibit on one of the narrow sides a depression in which both hilum and micropyle are situated, and from which a deep furrow runs almost dividing the seed into two unequal lobes. A section parallel to one of the long narrow sides of the seeds exhibits a horny, translucent endosperm surrounding a small radicle and two larger accumbent cotyledons; in water the endosperm swells considerably, and yields the mucilage it contains to that solvent. Foenugreek seeds have a characteristic odour and disagreeable taste.
Constituents.—Foenugreek seeds contain 28 per cent. of mucilage (in the endosperm), 6 per cent. of fixed oil, and 22 per cent. of proteins; they also contain the alkaloids trigonelline and choline.
Uses.—The powdered seeds are used in veterinary medicine, and occasionally in curry powders, etc. The green parts of the plant are largely used in the countries where it is cultivated, both as a fodder and for culinary purposes.
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.