Selected Trees and Shrubs
Manilkara bidentata; Syn: M. nitida, Achras nitida; Common name: Balata, Bulletwood, Ausubo
Plant Family: Belongs to the Sapotaceae or Sapodilla family, which includes Star Apple (Chrysophylum cainito) and Sapodilla(Achras zapota).
Description: Large, slow growing, erect, evergreen tree, reaching heights over 40 m (120 ft.), with base diameter up to 3 m (10 ft), one of the largest trees in tropical rainforests; wood heavy and extremely hard, twice as hard as oak or maple; leaves 5-15 cm long (2-6 in), clustered at end of twigs; flowers white and conspicuous, 1-8 in axillary clusters; ripe fruit yellow or greenish yellow, globular, medium-size, about 2 in across (5 cm), with usually one, sometimes two large, black seeds; tree tends to flower and fruit year round or seasonally; yields balata gum from milky white sap, and produces a heavy reddish brown timber.
Natural Habitat: Wet tropics with rainfall of about 60-160 in; best development in Lowland Rain Forest or Lower Montane Rain Forest; in Dominica, found in northern windswept coastal woodlands; propagation by seed.
Origin and Distribution: Native to Tropical America, ranging from Mexico to northern South America, including the Guianas, Venezuela, Peru, northern Brazil, and the West Indies.
Uses: Fruit edible fresh; heavy, strong wood used in commercial timber industry, including heavy construction, furniture, turnery and flooring; Caribs often use timber for construction; latex produces a nonelastic rubber used in manufacture of golf-ball covers and machine belts.
Indigenous Legends: Reportedly, sap from some species of genus has consistency and taste of cream, and, apparentlv, is used as substitute for cow's milk, but overindulgence said to result in severe constipation.
Robert A. DeFilipps. Useful Plants of the Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 1998
Dan H. Nicolson. Flora of Dominica, Part 2: Dicotyledoneae. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 1991
Manilkara bidentata, Bulletwood. USDA Plants Database, USDA, Washington, D.C. n.d. (plants.nrcs.usda.gov)
P. L. Weaver. Manilkara bidentata: Ausubo, Balata. USDA Forest Service, USDA, Washington, D.C. n.d. (na.fs.fed.us)
Species Info - Cherry, Bolivian. Woodflooring International, Burlington, New Jersey n.d. (wflooring.com)
Preface - How it Began
Introduction to Website
A Brief History
Plan of Gardens
Trees, Shrubs, Birds:
Selected Trees and Shrubs
Florida's Fairchild Garden
Birds of the Gardens
Three Virtual Tours
Panoramic Views Today
Early Panoramic Views
Hurricane David's Ravages
Reports and Documents
Treasures of the Cathedral
Diaspora Policy Paper
Contact Site Coordinator