The seeds, deprived of their husks, of Oryza sativa, Linné.
COMMON NAME: Rice.
Botanical Source.—Rice is an annual plant, with several jointed culms or stems, from 2 to 10 feet in height. The leaves are long, slender, and clasping. The panicle is terminal, diffuse, and bowing when the seed is weighty. The spikelet is hermaphrodite and 1-flowered. Glumes 2, and small. Paleae 2, and adhering to the ovary. Scales 2, smooth; stamens 6; ovaries sessile; styles 2; stigma feathery. Caryopsis compressed, and inclosed by the paleae (W.—G.—P.).
History and Chemical Composition.—Rice is supposed to have been originally a native of China, from whence it came to the East Indies; it is at present cultivated in nearly all parts of the world where the soil and climate are favorable. The harvesting of the new rice in India is introduced by religious worship. Rice, in order to thrive, requires a marshy, moist soil, and is accordingly now grown with success in Florida. Several species of cultivated rice are recognized. The husked seeds of the plant constitute the ordinary commercial rice. When boiled with water, the grains swell up, become soft, and absorb about twice their weight of water. Carolina rice, on analysis, has been found to consist of 85.07 per cent of starch, 3.60 of nitrogenous matter, 0.71 of gum, 0.29 of uncrystallizable sugar, 0.13 of fatty oil, 4.80 of woody fiber, 5.00 of water, and 0.40 of saline matters (Braconnot, Jour. Pharm. Chim., 1817, p. 314).
J. König (Die Menschl. Nahrungs- und Genussmittel, 3d ed., 1893, p. 527) records the average of 95 analyses of ordinary cooking rice as follows: Water, 12.55 per cent; nitrogenous matter, mostly albuminous substance, 7.88 per cent; fat, 0.53 per cent; nitrogen-free extractive matter, 77.79 per cent (containing 75.79 per cent of starch, 1.3 per cent of sugar, gum, etc.); crude fiber, 0.47 per cent, and ash, 0.78 per cent. Of all cereals, the rice grain is richest in pure starch. The ash of rice grain contains much potassium phosphate and magnesium salts. Manganese is also contained in the ash. Rice is used as food by millions of people in China and certain parts of India (see consular report on the rice crop in India, Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1898, p. 2712). In addition to its employment for culinary and medicinal purposes, it is used in making ardent spirits (Arrack, see Alcohol), or rice beer; in Japan, a wine is made from it, called sake or saki. What is known as Chinese "rice paper," is obtained from the pith of Aralia papyrifera, by skillfully slicing it with a sharp knife (see Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1878, p. 340).
Action and Medical Uses.—Rice is nutritious, and boiled in water until perfectly soft, is very useful in cases of debilitated stomach or bowels, and diarrhoea; it is likewise reputed a valuable article of food to overcome the diarrhoea so common to those who, for the first time, use the river waters of the western states. It is, by some, considered injurious to the eyes when used in any quantity, but this is an erroneous opinion, as many nations employ it almost exclusively as a diet, without any such effects. A decoction of rice (rice-water) is an excellent soothing and nutritive drink in febrile diseases, and likewise in inflammations of the internal organs.