Economic Botany

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 5–26 | Cite as

Laticiferous plants of economic importance V. Resources of gutta-percha-Palaquium species (Sapotaceae)

  • Llewelyn Williams


The term gutta-percha is usually applied to the product of the tree classified asPalaquium Gutta (Hook.) Baillon, of the Sapodilla family (Sapotaceae). The genusPalaquium is represented by more than 100 species of medium-sized to large trees, widely distributed from India and Ceylon to New Guinea and adjacent islands in southeast Pacific.

Gutta-percha fromP. Gutta was the first gutta-gum to become known in international trade, and has been used industrially for more than 100 years. As the source of supply diminished certain other species ofPalaquium trees, furnishing an inferior grade of gutta, came into production.

Originally the method of extracting the latex was by felling the trees and girdling the trunk and main branches. Later, tapping of standing trees was enforced. Nowadays, most of the output is by mechanical or chemical treatment of plantation-grown leaves, and the product is of superior quality.

Gutta-percha has long been esteemed for its insulating property, as a non-conductor of heat and electricity, and for its imperviousness to water, although its present-day consumption is on a much smaller scale than in former years. Its greatest use has been to cover submarine cables. Other uses include the manufacture of transmission belts, golf balls, in dentures, and for acid-resistant receptacles.


Bark Economic Botany Standing Tree Forest Department Malay Peninsula 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1964

Authors and Affiliations

  • Llewelyn Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Agricultural Research Service, Crops Research DivisionUnited States Department of AgricultureBeltsville

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