BUTTER-TREE. A name given to several filmic:II trees, of different orders. the fruit of whieh yield complex fixed oils, having, somewhat the appearance, and used for the purpose, of butter. The butter-trees of India and Africa belong to the genus Bassia, of the order Sapo tacem; the butter-trees of Guiana and Brazil to the genus Caryocar (q.v.). of the order Caryo caracece. The oil-palm (q.v.) and the Cocos butyracea (see COCOANUT) may also he regarded as butter-trees, although not generally receiving that name.
The mahwa, madhuea, or mahoĽa of the East Indies (Bassia latifolia) attains a height of 50 feet and is found in stony and mountain ous parts of India. The succulent corollas of the flowers are eaten raw, and a kind of spirits is distilled from them. They also yield an essential oil. The seeds yield by expression a thick. greenish-yellow oil used as food and also for lamps. The Indian butter - tree, Bassia butyracea, occurs in the more mountainous parts of India. The tree grows to a height of 50 to 60 feet. The wood is light and of no great im portance. The fruit is eaten to sonic extent, and from the seeds is expressed the oil or butter, which is white, and is extensively used. The
Indian oil-tree, Bassi(' longifolia, is a related species. the seeds of which are used in a similar manner to the others. The wood is said to resemble teak in its strength, hardness, and durability. Bassi(' pallida is said to yield gutta pereha. The butter-tree of Central Africa, described by Mingo Park, is now known as Buty rospermum Parkii, although formerly considered a species of Bassia. It produces the Galant but ter, also called Shea butter (i.e. tree-butter), which is highly valued and forms an important article of internal commerce in the interior of Africa. The seeds of the fruit, which resembles an olive. are dried in the sun, or in a peculiar kind of oven, and the kernels are then boiled in water, in order to obtain the butter from them. which not only keeps for a whole year without salt, but is also whiter, more solid. and more pleasant to the taste than the butter of cow's milk. This butter is used both as an article of food and of medicine. It has been supposed that the introduction of this tree might be of great importance in other tropical countries.