AURO - The natural choice for daily life - page 38

Until the early 1960s, shellac was used to produce gram-
ophone records. Nowadays it is still used for many pur-
poses, e.g. in polishes, for the conservation and care of
wooden furniture, or in medicinal compounds. The female
lac insect is only one to two mm in size but plays a vital
role when it comes to winning shellac. She taps the twig
bark of the butea gum tree or other species and processes
the plant juice into a resinous substance that is called lac.
The lac insect
Kerria lacca
lives on the butea gum tree,
poplars and other species on the Indian subcontinent. The
scale insects are bred on the lush, young shoots of the tree
so they can feed on its sap. The female members of the col-
ony-forming animals tap the bark of the twigs and take up
s u b -
amount s
of the plant
sap that is also
called phloem sap.
The sap of the host plant is
processed and then exuded as a secretion that forms a sta-
ble encrustation on the twig surface. The resinous layer
also protects the breed of the insects from extreme temper-
atures and from natural enemies. The harvest takes place
twice a year. The twigs with the lacquer, also known as
stick lac, get cut off and the resin is separated from the
leaves. After repeated washing and remelting, the lac is
Shellac is used for the production of lacquers that are particu-
larly suited for violins and plucked musical instruments.
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