Caribbean Islands have been known to provide a perfect environment for rain forests. This is on account of an average temperature of 80-85 Fahrenheit, mountainous topography, average rains of 3 inches every month. Because of these features, the rainforest in the Caribbean is also home to diverse species of plants, animals, fungi, and microbes. You will love the forests for its diverse vegetation. You can easily spot orchids and bromeliads; huge fern trees, elephant ear plants. But one tree that covers huge areas of this rainforest is balata tree or Manilkara bidentata. It is a large and tropical rain forest tree that has several uses. Here goes the detailed description.
Edible use of Balata tree
This tree produces an edible fruit in form globose berries. It contains sweet and gummy pulp that encloses black and shiny seed. The fruit has a sweet and creamy taste but beware of overheating as it can lead to severe constipation. It is also known that the sap from some of its species is used as a substitute for cow’s milk on account of its consistency and creamy taste.
As a medicine
The stem of this tree produces latex that can be used to cure dysentery. Its bark in combination with the barks of Hymenaea and Humiria species has also been known to be quite effective against the disease. Leaves also have a medicinal use as it can treat paralysis of limbs.
Manilkara bidentata tree is cultivated on account of its milky latex. The trees usually yield sap for around 25 years or more. The process used to extract latex is the same as done from the sap of the rubber tree. It is then subjected to dryness so that it forms a rubber-like material. The material obtained from this tree is inelastic just like its more expensive form known as gutta-percha. Other than this, the tree is also cultivated for shade in spite of its slow-growing nature.
Golf ball production
Balata has got a widespread usage in the production of the outer layer of high-quality golf balls. These balls are known for their high spin rate but unfortunately, they do not cover a long distance just like other balls that have a Surlyn cover. The balls are not so durable due to their non-durable nature and are needed to be replaced frequently. These balls were once a favorite of many professional golfers and handicapped players. But now there use it’s obsolete and have been replaced by balls made from Surlyn and urethane technology.
Use of heartwood.
The heartwood of this tree has got widespread usage on account of its hardness and durable nature. It is also resistant to fungi and termites but is susceptible to marine borers. All these qualities have ensured that it has a high commercial value. This is clear on account of its wide utilization in the construction of railway sleepers, bridge works, and billiard cues and violin bows. The overall strength, durability, and resistance to wear and tear make it ideal to be used in making equipment for textile and pulp mills. The presence of steam-bending properties further qualifies it for making boat frames.