|ergot (ˈɜːɡət, -ɡɒt)|
|1.||a disease of cereals and other grasses caused by ascomycete fungi of the genus Claviceps, esp C. purpurea, in which the seeds or grain of the plants are replaced by the spore-containing bodies (sclerotia) of the fungus|
|2.||any fungus causing this disease|
|3.||the dried sclerotia of C. purpurea, used as the source of certain alkaloids used to treat haemorrhage, facilitate uterine contraction in childbirth, etc|
|[C17: from French: spur (of a cock), of unknown origin]|
ergot er·got (ûr'gət, -gŏt')
A fungus that infects various cereal plants and forms compact black masses of branching filaments that replace many of the grains of the host plant.
The dried sclerotia of ergot, usually obtained from rye seed and used as a source of several medicinally important alkaloids and as the basic source of lysergic acid.
|ergot (ûr'gət) Pronunciation Key
A fungus (Claviceps purpurea) that infects rye as well as other cereal grasses fed to livestock. Ergot forms sclerotia (masses of hyphae) that replace individual seeds in the spike of the infected plant and contain a complex mixture of alkaloids, several of which are medicinally important. Ergot is the basic source of ergotamine and lysergic acid. Ingestion of infected rye produces convulsions, hallucinations, and severe vasoconstriction that can lead to gangrene. Ergot poisoning may have been responsible for outbreaks of mass hysteria and reports of demonic visions in medieval Europe.