return to: checklist; keys; family Sapotaceae
Tree; bark deeply furrowed; stems and leaves with latex; leaves alternate, simple, entire, clustered towards the ends of branchlets, oblong to elliptic, margin entire, apex optuse; flowers axillary, whitish, with brown hairs; fruits globose, brown, edible.
A tree of many uses. The wood, hard, heavy, durable, and resistant to decay, has a wide variety of applications, including railroad ties, posts, general construction, furniture and cabinetry. It is one of the few woods known to have been used in the construction of ancient Maya temples, for example as elaborately carved door lintels. The fruits are edible. And latex obtained from the bark yields chicle, the original base for natural chewing gum. In many parts of Yucatan, standing trees still bear the zig-zag scars made by chicleros during their harvest of latex from wild trees. Standley (1930) reports that when ground up, the seeds have been used to treat bites and stings of poisonous animals. Listed, as Achras zapota, as an important source of pollen and/or nectar for bees (Souza Novello 1981).