Sometimes referred to as gutta balata. This hard rubberlike material is made by drying the juice produced by the bully tree in Guyana and the West Indies. The tree is tapped by cutting zigzag gashes in the bark and collecting the latex in cups, which is then coagulated in trays. Like gutta-percha, balata is inelastic, tough, leathery, and water-resistant, and it softens when heated.

Balata revolutionized the manufacture of golf balls when golf pros realized that they could hit high shots into greens and actually spin the ball backwards.

Balata, the product of the bullet-tree -- its milk or juice, in fact -- which is a large forest tree, ranging from Jamaica and Trinidad to Venezuela and Guiana. The tree grows to a height of 120 feet, and has a large, spreading head. A tree of average size yield three pints of milk. The milk is dried in hollow wooden trays. When it is sufficiently dry it is removed from the trays in strips and hung up on lines to harden.

Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

Bal"a*ta (?), n. [Sp., prob. fr. native name.]


A West Indian sapotaceous tree (Bumelia retusa).


The bully tree (Minusops globosa); also, its milky juice (balata gum), which when dried constitutes an elastic gum called chicle, or chicle gum.


© Webster 1913

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