101. Zamia, Linn.
Sex. Syst. Dioecia, Polyandria.
In the Bahamas, and some other of the West India Islands, a starch is obtained from the trunk of some species of this genus, which is employed as an excellent sort of arrow root. None of it, to my knowledge, comes to Europe as an article of commerce. In the Museum of Oeconomic Botany, at the Botanic Garden, Kew, there is a specimen of a starch, sent from Jamaica by Mr. Purdie, and staled to be "A nutritious powder made from the trunk of Zamia integrifolia, and sold in the West India Markets." In external appearance it resembles West Indian Arrow-root (Maranta arundinacea): but when examined by the microscope it is found to consist of rather large-sized grains, some of which are spheroidal; but most of them are the separated parts of compound grains, and, therefore, are variously shaped, owing to their mutual compression; some being hemispheres, others muller-shaped grains, &c. The nucleus and rings are scarcely discernible. Most of the grains present a superficial protuberant scar (like the hilum of some seeds), the situation of which is remote from the nucleus (as ascertained by polarized light). [The following measurements of 12 grains were made for me by Mr. George Jackson:— Measurements of starch from Zamia integrifolia. 1. 0.0022 x 0.0021 parts of an English Inch. 2. 0.0022 x 0.0018. 3. 0.0020 x 0.0019. 4. 0.0018 x 0.0016. 5. 0.0017 x 0.0014. 6. 0.0014 x 0.0013. 7. 0.0011 x 0.0009. 8. 0.0013 x 0.0010. 9. 0.0009 x 0.0007. 10. 0.0007 x 0.0006. 11. 0.0004 x 0.0004. 12. 0.0003 x 0.0003.]
[Zamia Media.—This is an intermediate species between Z. integrifolia and Z. angustifolia. It differs from the former in having more numerous, longer, and narrower leaflets, which are perfectly entire, or nearly destitute of the serratures at the apex. The footstalk is hairy at base, and the female cone is obtuse, not pointed. Specimens have been brought to me from Florida by Dr. Godon, of the U. S. Navy, which agree with those, from the same locality, in the Herbarium of the Academy of Natural Sciences.
The root of this plant is a large spheroidal or somewhat tapering coated tuber, rough and dark-coloured externally, fleshy, internally white and succulent, and, when incised, pouring forth a fluid of gummy consistence, which hardens in small tears at the point of exit. This root is called coonti root in Florida by the Indians and white settlers, and the farina prepared from it is also called coonti. As a nutriment, it is found in the shops of the northern cities of the United States, under the name of Florida arrow root. When carefully prepared, it has a mealy appearance and feel, is of a pure white colour, and somewhat of a lustrous appearance; it is apt to be lumpy. The mode of preparation is the same as that of Bermuda arrow root. The form of the granule is that of the "half, fourth, or third of a solid sphere." Some of the granules are completely muller-shaped, in fact the form is exactly that given by Raspail for the granule of the Maranta Arundinacea, which is invariably round.
Florida arrowroot is employed for the same purposes and in the same manner as the other species of farina in use.—J. C.]
The Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Vol. II, 3th American ed., was written by Jonathan Pereira in 1853.