LENTIL (OF. ientille, from Lat. lentieula, diminutive of lens, lentil), Ficia hirsuta or Lens itirsata. An annual leguminous plant, related to tares (see TARE), a native of the Mediterranean region. It is extensively cultivated in the south of Europe, in Egypt, in the East. and to some extent in other parts of the world. It has a weak, branching stem. from 6 to IS inches high, and pinnate leaves with 6 to S pairs of leaflets and terminal tendrils. The flowers are small, white, lilac, or pale blue. The pods are very short and blunt, thin and smooth, and tain two seeds shaped like a double convex lens. There are merous varieties, with white, brown. and black seeds, of various sizes, the largest being about one-half inch in eter. The lentil grows best in a light and rather dry soil ; in a very rich soil it duces comparatively few pods.
Unlike the pea and the bean. the lentil is eaten only when fully ripe. The brown or reddish lentil is smaller than the yellow, but of more delicate flavor. It is one of the most ancient of food-plants —probably one of the first to be brought under cultivation by man. Since it has been grown from early times in Asia and in the Medi terranean it seems probable that the reddish Egyptian lentil was the 'red pottage' of Esau. In Europe this legume is far less grown
than the pea and the bean, partly because its yield of seed and straw is less. The market is partially supplied from Egypt. The lentil, accord ing to analysis, is one of the most nutritious of all the legumes, hut its flavor is pronounced and to some persons not as agreeable as that of the pea and the bean. Its seeds have the fol lowing percentage composition: Water. 8.4: pro tein, 25.7; fat, 1.0; carbohydrates. 59.2; and ash, 5.7, the fuel value being 1620 calories a pound. Like all legumes used as food, they are especially rich in protein. It is generally used for soup or puree. In the Mediterranean countries it is often eaten roasted. It has been little known in the United States, but with the growth of the foreign population its use has steadily increased. The lentils found in our markets are all min ported, but the culture of this legume from Euro pean seeds is being tried in the Southwestern Territories and elsewhere. A small variety of lentil is already grown in New Alexico and Ari zona, as well as in Alexico, the seed of which was doubtless brought from Spain centuries ago by the ancestors of the present mixed race living there.