Chicle (Manilkara zapota) by Peter W Alcorn
In the field, older trees are immediately recognized due to the omnipresent diagonal slashes – testament to the great economic importance of this species and
Chicle (Manilkara zapota)
the diligence of chicle harvesters (chicleros) to locate every tappable tree – extending the length of the bole and often well into the lower branches. Trees of 25cm diameter at breast height (dbh) or more are usually conspicuously scarred with this pattern. The bark is usually grey and furrowed on younger trees, becoming very thick, deeply fissured or checked with age. The slash (inner bark) is distinctly pink or occasionally white. The leaves, especially on younger plants, are distinguished from co-occurring species by their coriaceous leaves, thick and abundant white latex, the presence of epiphylls on the upper dark-green surface, and lack of such plants on the lower yellowish surface. The leaves also have a distinct yellow mid-vein and secondaries that join the mid-vein at very uniform, nearly-90-degree angles. Leaf size and shape vary considerably (5 to 15cm long and 3 to 8cm wide) and cause more confusion than elucidation. The tree’s canopy is usually very dense and the sympodial branch form is immediately distinguished.