(Indian). Called also cacavi, cassave, pain de Madagascar, ricinos minor, maniot, yucca, ma-niiba, aipi, aipima coxera, aipipoca, janipha, jatropha manihot Lin. Sp. Pi. 1429. Nat. order tithymeloides of Jussieu, nearly related to the crotons. This plant grows in the warmer parts of the western world. Its root, which is only used, is called yucca; by the Mexicans quanticamotli; and when prepared into a flour, cassavi. Names for the preparations of the root, in order to make it into bread, are various. Sec Mandiba.
This plant, which is a native, or at least a denizen, of three quarters of the world, is one of the most advantageous gifts of Providence to mankind. It grows in a dry, and in many respects an useless, soil; it is neither injured by seasons nor insects, and the roots of different varieties are fit for use at every period. It is nutritious, and, to those accustomed to the diet, pleasant, though to the European it is insipid. The plant is poisonous; but the poison consists in a volatile oil, which is easily separated by heat, and its congeneres afford us two medicines of peculiar utility, the cascarilla and the castor oil, both however from plants poisonous in some parts. The poison of the cassada root is a white milky fluid, highly deleterious. It is found to act as a sedative on the nervous system; for the substance is apparently unchanged, and neither inflammation nor erosion can be discovered in the stomach.
Among the varieties cultivated, those which have a tinge of red or violet are most common and most highly esteemed. The cassada, when dried, will keep fifteen years with little change: and Aublet tells us, that ten pounds are sufficient for fifteen days' provision. On adding water, it swells considerably.
The liquor that is pressed from this plant is called manipuera; the root macerated in water until it is soft is called mandiopiba; of the sediment of this is made a finer flour, called vipeba by the Brasilians, and by the Portuguese farinha fresca; the undried dressed meal, farinha relada.
The root of the bitter cassada is poisonous when raw: however, it may be deprived of its noxious qualities, which reside in the juice, by heat. Cassada bread is made therefore both of the bitter and sweet, by washing and scraping the roots clean, grating them into a tub or trough, and squeezing out the juice by strong pressure through a hair bag; the thinner part of which is evaporated, and the remainder dried over the fire in a hot stone bason, and afterwards made into cakes. It also makes puddings equal to millet.
The small bits which have escaped the grater, and the clods not passing through the sieve, are dried in the stove after the flour is roasted; then pounded in a mortar to a fine powder, of which is made soup. It is likewise used for making a kind of coarse cassada, which is roasted till almost burnt: this, fermented with me-lasses and West-india potatoes, forms an intoxicating liquor, a favourite drink of the natives, called ouycou. With this liquor the poorer inhabitants and workmen arc often intoxicated. It is of a red colour, strong, nourishing, and refreshing; to which the inhabitants are soon and easily accustomed as beer.
Of the cassada are made emulsions, ptisans, etc. which are used in consumptions, dysenteries, fevers, faintings, against poisons and haemorrhages, both internal and external.
The scrapings of fresh bitter cassada are successfully applied to ill-disposed ulcers.
The fluid pressed from the cassada contains an extremely fine faecula or starch, of the most beautiful white colour, which, like the starch of wheat, crackles between the fingers - an adventitious quality in the latter, depending, it is said, on spirits of wine employed in the manufacture. The cassada starch is used in the preparation of the most delicate dishes; indeed in every art where we employ the finest flour.
From the cassada, mixed with potatoes, by fermentation, the Americans prepare the vicou: it is an agreeable acid liquor, equally pleasant and wholesome. If the juice of a variety of the jatropha, the cachiri, is boiled with rasped potatoes and sugar, and then fermented, a pleasing liquor resembling perry is produced. By a similar method, a kind of white wine (paya) or cyder (voua-paya) is manufactured. In these processes, the roots of the cassada suffer a degree of decomposition, probably from fermentation, since they are allowed to remain till they are covered with a purple mould. The cassada, boiled with pimento till it acquires the consistence of a conserve, is used as a condiment, and said to be highly agreeable in a variety of sauces.
When the cassada is heated over the fire to separate the poisonous oil, it is usually made into cakes; but it is sometimes broken into .small grains, and is then supposed to be the tapioca.
The juice of roucou is an antidote to the poison of this plant. Raii Hist. Encyclop. Britannica.