A LARGE tree, native of the East, and not unlike our plum-tree. It is thirty or forty feet high; the leaves are roundish, but sharp-pointed, and of a deep green; they are finely indented, and of a firm texture. The flowers are large and white; they resemble, in all respects, the blossoms of our plum-trees. The fruit is a kind of plum, of a long shape, with a small quantity of fleshy matter, and a very large stone. It is a kind of myrobolan, but is not exactly the same with any that we use.
The Bengal bean, as it is called, is an irregular production of this tree: it is very ill-named a bean; it is truly a gall like those of the oak; but it does not rise like them from the wood or leaves, but from the fruit of this particular plum. It is as broad as a walnut, but flatted, and hollowed in the center; its original is this: There is a little black fly frequent in that country, which lodges its eggs in the unripe fruit of this particular plum, as we have insects in England, which always choose a particular plant, and a particular part for that purpose. The fly always strikes the fruit while it is green, and has but the rudiments of the stone. It grows distempered from the wound, and the stone never ripens in it, but it takes this singular form.
It is an excellent astringent. It is of the nature of the galls of the oak, but less violently binding. It is good in all purgings and bloody fluxes, and against the overflowing of the menses.
The Family Herbal, 1812, was written by John Hill.