pith, in botany, core of the stem of most plants. Pith is composed of large, loosely packed food-storage cells. As the stem grows older the pith usually dries out, and in some it disintegrates and the stem becomes hollow. In trees the pith becomes much reduced as the woody tissue (xylem) grows. In East Asia, rice paper is made from the pith of some shrubs. Candlewicks are made of the pith of certain rushes.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.