A nutritive substance, brought from the East Indies, of considerable use in diet as a restorative. Sago is procured from a tree called landau, growing in the Moluccas: this tree is a species of the palm, which grows naturally in Japan, and upon rocky, dry mountains in Malabar, and its production is an universal article of food among the inhabitants of Amboyna, Ceram, Celebes, and the surrounding islands east of Celebes, and also in Borneo. The progress of its vegetation, in the early stages, is very slow: at first, it is a mere shrub, thick set with thorns, which make it difficult to come near it; but as soon as its stem is once formed, it rises in a short time to the height of thirty feet, is about six feet in circumference, and imperceptibly loses its thorns. Its ligneous bark is about an inch in thickness, and covers a multitude of long fibres, which, being interwoven one with another, envelope a mass of a gummy kind of meal. As soon as this tree is ripe, a whitish dust, which transpires through the pores of the leaves, and adheres to their extremities, proclaims its maturity.
The Malays then cut them down near the root, divide them into several sections, which they split into quarters; they then scoop out the mass of mealy substance, which is enveloped by, and adheres to, the fibres; they dilute it in pure water, and then pass it through a straining hag of fine cloth, in order to separate it from the fibres. When this paste has lost part of its moisture by evaporation, the Malays throw it into a kind of earthen vessels, of different shapes, when they allow it to dry and harden. This paste is a wholesome, nourishing food, and may be preserved for many years; the Indians eat it diluted with water, and sometimes baked or boiled: a jelly is sometimes made of it, which is white and of a delicious flavour. The finest part of the meal is mixed with water, and the paste is rubbed into little round grains like small shot, and dried. This is the sago of the shops.