Salep. Orchis sp.
Salep. Tubera Salep, P. G. Salep, Fr., G.— This name is given to the dried tubers of numerous species of the genus Orchis, and other allied genera of the Orchidaceae. At present the salep of European commerce is prepared chiefly in the Levant, but to some extent in Germany and other parts of Europe. The German salep is said to be more translucent than the Levant.
Salep is in small, oval, irregular, ovoid or oblong tubers, rarely palmate, hard, horny, semi-transparent, of a yellowish color, a feeble odor, and a mild mucilaginous taste. It is sometimes kept in the state of powder. In composition and relation to water it is closely analogous to tragacanth, consisting of a substance insoluble but swelling up in cold water (bassorin), of another in much smaller proportion, soluble in cold water, and of minute quantities of saline matters. It also occasionally contains a little starch. It is highly nutritive, and may be employed for the same purposes as tapioca, sago, etc. Its medieval and Oriental reputation as an aphrodisiac is unfounded. On account of its hardness, salep, in. its ordinary state, is of difficult pulverization; but the difficulty is removed by macerating it in cold water until it becomes soft, and then rapidly drying it. Royal salep, said to be much used as a food in Afghanistan, has been identified by J. E. T. Aitchison as the product of Allium Macleanii Baker. (Fam. Liliaceae.) (P. J., Sept., 1889.)
E. Reeb stated that salep possesses, like diastase, the property of coagulating milk, which he attributes to erythrodextrin, but finds that this body, in distinction from diastase, will retain its coagulating property even after heating it to 100° C. (212° F.). (Journ. der Pharm. v. Elsass-Lothringen, 1912, No. 8.).