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Manilkara chicle
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Sapotaceae
Genus: Manilkara
Species: M. chicle
Binomial name
Manilkara chicle
(Pittier) Gilly[1]

Achras chicle Pittier
Mopania chicle (Pittier) Lundell

: list sources : [1][2][3]

Chicle is the natural gum from Manilkara chicle, which is a tropical evergreen tree native to Central America. The tree ranges from Veracruz in Mexico south to Atlántico in Colombia.[4] It was traditionally used in chewing gum. While the Wrigley Company was a prominent user of this material, today there are only a few companies that still make chewing gum from natural chicle. This is because by the 1960s chicle was replaced by butadiene-based synthetic rubber which was cheaper to manufacture.

Chiclets are named after chicle.

The name "chicle" comes from the Nahuatl word for the gum, tziktli [ˈtsiktɬi], which can be translated as "sticky stuff". Alternatively, "chichle" may have come from the Mayan word, "tsicte".[5] Chicle was well known to the Nahuatl-speaking Aztecs and to the Maya (Amerindians), and early European settlers prized it for its subtle flavour and high sugar content. The ancient word is still used in the Americas, "chicle" being a common name for chewing gum in Spanish and "chiclete" being the Brazilian Portuguese name.

Locals who collect chicle are called chicleros.

The tapping of the gum is similar to the tapping of latex from the rubber tree: zig-zag gashes are made in the tree trunk and the dripping gum is collected in small bags. It is then boiled until it reaches the correct thickness. Due to widespread tapping, the Manilkara chicle tree has become scarce and other sources like the related balatá (Manilkara bidentata) are increasing in use.

In response to a land reform law passed in Guatemala in 1952 which ended feudal work relations and expropriated unused lands and sold them to the indigenous and peasants, the Wrigley Gum Company refused to continue buying Guatemalan chicle. Since it was the sole buyer of Guatemalan chicle the government was forced to create a massive aid program for growers. (See Walter Lafeber, Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America, 2nd edition, NY: Norton, 1993, p. 119)


  1. ^ a b Trop. Woods no. 73: 14. 1943 "Plant Name Details for Manilkara chicle". IPNI.;jsessionid=C2CDD17854C13F81AEE2ABA353BCB0D6?id=152591-2. Retrieved December 25, 2009. "nomenclatural synonym: Sapotaceae Achras chicle"  
  2. ^ J. Wash. Acad. Sci. 9: 436. 1919 "Plant Name Details for Achras chicle". IPNI. Retrieved December 25, 2009. "Distribution: Vega Grande, near Los Amates, Izabal (Guatemala, Central America, Southern America)
    nomenclatural synonym: Sapotaceae Mopania chicle
    nomenclatural synonym: Sapotaceae Manilkara chicle"
  3. ^ Wrightia 6: 19. 1978 "Plant Name Details for Mopania chicle". IPNI. Retrieved December 25, 2009. "nomenclatural synonym: Sapotaceae Achras chicle"  
  4. ^ Manilkara chicle information from NPGS/GRIN
  5. ^ Mexicolore article on chicle




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