Rubber (ThursdayTreeLove)

For a very long time, I thought that rubber that is used in various industries (to make tires, footwear, pipes and so on – just to name a few) comes from the Rubber Plant. To my chagrin, I realised my mistake quite late in life! The domestic ornamental Rubber Plant actually belongs to the Moraceae family and is Ficus elastica.

Commercially, rubber is sourced from Hevea brasiliensis that belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. This tree is native to South America but was introduced to India by the British and is now grown extensively in southern states of India. Latex collected from these plants is processed to make various industrial products.

The deciduous tree has a leafy crown of trifoliate leaves. Wild specimens can live for up to 100 years but those grown in plantations are replanted earlier as latex production falls. I saw several plantations a few years ago in Kasargod, Kerala. Here are a few images.

The crown was too high for me to capture the leaf details but we can see the dense shade cast by the canopy.
Latex oozes out from cuts made on the tree trunk and it is collected in such vessels. This process is called tapping and it is usually done in the morning.
Spot the latex drop and it drips into the container.

Here is a Wikipedia article that gives detailed info about the chemical nature of rubber, its processing and so on. Little do we realise that plants provide the raw material of so many important products in our lives.

It is interesting to know that many plants have influenced history. Prof PK Ghanekar has written the book इतिहास घडविणार्‍या वनस्पती (means Plants that have fashioned history) wherein he has described many such varieties and Rubber is one of them.

Have you seen the Hevea brasiliensis?

I am joining Parul in her ThursdayTreeLove bloghop. Do head over to see some fantastic trees from around the world. Better still, join in!

14 Replies to “Rubber (ThursdayTreeLove)”

  1. I’ve never knowingly seen a rubber tree. It wold not survive the winters where I live. Until the pandemic, I never realized how important rubber still is. Now, we have shortages, as I understand it.

    1. The pandemic has created created havoc not only on health but general economy as well. I hope this phase ends soon. Thanks for stopping by Alana!

  2. I also thought rubber plant gives us rubber but then later learnt about the Rubber tree.
    I have read a lot about rubber trees so I feel I have seen but actually no. I am yet to meet a rubber tree 🙂 Thank you for sharing, Archana.

    1. Thanks Parul! Happy to participate in TTL. Do look out for rubber plantations when driving in Kerala. You can meet this tree 😊

  3. I’ve seen rubber trees in the south of Thailand and Malaysia. It always thrills me to see the little cups on the trees, for some reason! Thanks for this.

  4. what an interesting post, i love the effort you take to find out so much about the tree, I have a friend who is from Kerala and they had rubber trees and she used to talk about it when they were dividing property.. never seen the tree only heard, thanks for sharing.:)

  5. I love walking through rubber plantations.<3 Love the shade in there and love those neat lines they make (especially those diagonal ones :D)

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