Health benefits of Rubber Plant

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Rubber Plant Quick Facts
Name: Rubber Plant
Scientific Name: Ficus elastica
Origin Indian Sub-continent (i.e. Bhutan, northern India and Nepal) and south-eastern Asia (i.e. Myanmar and Indonesia)
Shapes 3-lobed, 3-seeded ellipsoidal capsule
Health benefits Beneficial for wounds, cuts, sores, muscle and joint pain, constipation, insect bites and parasitic worms.
Rubber plant botanically known as Ficus elastica Roxb. is a large or medium house plant with beautiful foliage belonging to the fig genus and Moraceae family. The plant is native to Indian Sub-continent (i.e. Bhutan, northern India and Nepal) and south-eastern Asia (i.e. Myanmar and Indonesia). It has become naturalized in Sri Lanka, the West Indies, and the US State of Florida and propagates mainly by seeds, cuttings or layering. The plant has beautiful plastic-like leaves which gives the plant a unique appearance and adds up the artistic sense of the room. Few of the popular common names of the plant are Indian rubber tree, rubber plant, rubber tree, Assam rubber, India rubber fig, Indian rubber plant, Indian rubber tree, rubber plant, Assam rubber tree, Caoutchoue tree, Indian rubber fig, Karet-tree, Rubber Bush and rubber fig.

Genus name comes from the Latin name for Ficus carica the edible fig. Specific epithet refers to the milky sap that can be used to produce rubber. The common name of Ficus elastica, rubber fig tree, refers to the milky white sap that is tapped from the tree’s bark. It is widely grown in the tropics as an ornamental tree. Mature trees develop banyan-like aerial roots that form trunks. In colder climates, this is an extremely popular houseplant that is noted for its thick, leathery, glossy, dark green leaves and pink to purplish stipules. Milky sap from these trees was used to make an inferior rubber in the early 1900s.

Plant Description

Rubber plant is a large, evergreen tree that grows about 30–40 meters (98–131 ft.) (rarely up to 60 meters or 200 feet) tall, with a stout trunk up to 2 meters (6.6 ft.) in diameter. When the tree is planted in its original location, it can grow for more than 100 ft. Because of its frost vulnerability, this rubber tree plant is usually grown as an indoor plant. The plant is found growing in hill forest, particularly on cliffs and limestone hills, vegetation zones of tropical rain forest, woodland, shrub land, light tropical forest and as a cultivated plant indoors or in greenhouses elsewhere.

Rubber Plant facts

Name Rubber Plant
Scientific Name Ficus elastica
Native Indian Sub-continent (i.e. Bhutan, northern India and Nepal) and south-eastern Asia (i.e. Myanmar and Indonesia). It has become naturalized in Sri Lanka, the West Indies, and the US State of Florida
Common Names Indian rubber tree, rubber plant, rubber tree, Assam rubber, India rubber fig, Indian rubber plant, Indian rubber tree, rubber plant, Assam rubber tree, Caoutchoue tree, indian rubber fig, Karet-tree, Rubber Bush, rubber fig
Name in Other Languages Afrikaans: Rubber, Rubberplant
Albanian: Gomë
Arabic:  tayn mattatiin (تين مطاطي), fiks yalja  (فيكس يلجا), Matat (مطاط), tayn maran (تين مرن)
Assamese:  Athā bara (অথা বৰ)  Athabor, Attah
Armenian: Rretin (ռետին)         
Azerbaijani: Rezin
Basque: Gomazko, Kautxu-landare
Belarusian: Guma (гума)
Bengali:   Bor,    Rabāra (রবার)
Bosnian: Guma
Bulgarian: Kauchuk (каучук)
Burmese:  Ganoi, Kanoi, Nyaung kyetpaung
Cameroon: Bikehi
Caroline Islands: Gak’iynigoma
Catalan: Goma d’esborrar, ficus del cautxú
Cebuano: Rubber
Chichewa: Mphira
Chinese: Yin du rong (印度榕), Yìndù jiāo shù ( 印度胶树) , Yìndù xiàngpí shù (印度橡皮樹),  Yìndù xiàngjiāoshù (印度橡胶树), Miǎn róng (缅榕), Miǎn shù (緬樹) , Xiàngjiāo ( 橡胶)
Cook Islands: Rapa
Croatian:  Gumijevac, Fikus, guma
Cuba: Goma elástica, hule, ule
Czech: Guma, fíkovník pryžodárný
Danish:  Gummifigen, gummi, gummitræ
Dominican Republic: Higuera
Dutch: Rubber, Indische rubberboom, Indische gomelastiekboom
English:  Assam rubber tree, Caoutchoue tree, India rubber fig, indian rubber fig, Indian rubberplant, Indian rubber tree, Ornamental rubber tree, Rubber plant, Karet-tree, Rubberplant, Rubber Bush, rubber fig
Esperanto: Kaŭĉuko
Estonian: Kumm
Filipino: Goma
Finnish: Kumi, Kumiviikuna, huonekumipuu
French:   Arbre á caoutchouc, Caoutchouc, Figuier élastique, arbre du caoutchouc, arbre à la gomme, ficus à grandes feuilles, figuier caoutchouc, gommier, ficus commun, figuier ornamental
Galician: Goma
Georgian: Rezinis (რეზინის)
German:  Gummibaum, gummi, Gummi- Feigenbaum, indischer Gummibaum
Ghana: Amanyedua
Greek: Kaoutsoúk (καουτσούκ)
Gujarati: Rabara (રબર)
Haitian Creole: Kawotchou, caoutchouc
Hausa: Roba
Hebrew: גוּמִי, פיקוס הגומי
Hindi: Bargad, Bor, rabar vrksh (रबर वृक्ष), atha bor, athabor, attah bar, bor, devak-araung, dewak-araung, diengjri, goli, goni, labor, nisatong, phrap ramkhet, phrapramkhet, rabbaru, rabracho-vad, sagubanka, sangria, shimayal, simamarri, simayal, simeyala
Hmong: Roj hmab
Hungarian: Gumi, Szobafikusz
Icelandic: Gummi
Igbo: Roba
Indonesian: Karet, Karet kebo, kajai,  rambung
Indonesia/Sumatra: Kajoe aro karet, tuin bij de kampong
Irish: Rubair
Italian: Gomma da cancellare, Albero della gomma, Fico della gomma, gomma elastica
Japanese:   Assamugomu (アッサムゴム),  Indogomunoki  (インドゴムノキ)   Indo gomu no ki, Gomu (ゴム)
Javanese: Karet, Karèt kebo
Kannada:  Rabbar mara (ರಬ್ಬರ್ ಮರ), Rabra chovad, Rabbar (ರಬ್ಬರ್), Goli, Goni, Shimeala, India rubber mara
Kazakh: Rezeñke (резеңке)
Khasi: Diengjri
Khmer: kawsaou (កៅស៊ូ)
Korean: In do go mu na mu (인도고무나무), tanseong gomu(탄성 고무)
Lao: Yang (ຢາງ)
Lithuanian: Stambialapis fikusas
Latin: Flexilis
Latvian: Gumija
Lithuanian: Guma
Macedonian: Guma (гума)
Malagasy: Fingotra
Malay: Getah
Malayalam :  Inthyan rabbar (ഇന്ത്യന്‍ റബ്ബര്‍), rabar (റബര്), Shimayal, Simayal
Malaysia: Bunoh seteroh, nyatus
Maltese: Gomma
Maori: Rapa
Marathi: Rabar (रबर), Rabracho-vad (रबराचो वड)
Marshall Islands: Wojke-roba
Micronesia, Federated states of: Komunoki, rapah, repah
Mongolian: Ryezinen (резинэн)
Myanmar: Bedi, ganoi, kanoi, moih-krat kanoi ganoi, nyaung-kyetpaung, rawbhar (ရော်ဘာ)
Nepali: Rabar (रबर), labar
Netherlands: Indische Gomelastiekboom
Nicaragua: Palo de hule
Norwegian: Gummi, gummifikentre
Palau: Komunoki
Persian: لاستیک, فیکوس
Philippines: Balete
Pohnpeian: Rapah, repah
Polish: Gumowy, Figowiec sprężysty
Portuguese:  Arvore da goma elastica, Borracheira da India, Figueira da borracha, Borracha, Borracheira, Falsa-seringueira, Figueira-branca, Árvore-da-borracha, figueira-indiana, seringueira, seringueira-de-jardim
Romanian: Cauciuc
Russian: Lastik (ластик), Fikus kauchukonosnyĭ (Фикус каучуконосный), fikus elastika elastichnyy (фикус эластика эластичный)
Samoa: Tagamimi palagi
Sanskrit:  Vat
Serbian:  Gumijevac, Tropska smokva, Fikus, Fikus zmajevac, guma(гума), kaučukovo drvo (каучуково дрво), tropska smokva (тропска смоква), fikus (фикус)
Sesotho: Rabara
Sinhala: Rabar (රබර්)
Slovak: Guma
Slovenian:  Gumovec, gume
Somali: Caag
Spanish:  Árbol del caucho, Gomero,  Higuera cauchera, Higuera de la India, Planta del caucho, caucho, Cauchú comun, fisco, palo de goma
Swahili: Mpira
Swedish: Gummi, Fönsterfikus
Tajik: Rezina (резина)
Tamil:  Cimaiyal (சீமையால்), Rappar (ரப்பர்), Cīmai (சீமை) Āl (ஆல்)
Telegu: Rabbaru (రబ్బరు),  Segubanka (సాగుబంక), Rabbaru, Sagubanka, Simamarri
Thai: Yāng xindeīy (ยางอินเดีย)  Yang india, Yāng (ยาง), lung,  yang lop
Turkish: Silgi, Kauçuk ağacı
Ukrainian: Guma (гума)
United States Virgin Islands: Indian rubber fig
Urdu: ربڑ
Uzbek: Rezina
Vietnamese:  Ða búp đỏ, cao su
Welsh: Rwber
Yapese: Gak’iynigoma
Yoruba: Roba
Yiddish: Gume (גומע)
Zulu: Iraba
Plant Growth Habit Large, evergreen tree
Growing Climates Hill forest, particularly on cliffs and limestone hills,   vegetation zones of tropical rainforest, woodland, shrub land, light tropical forest and as a cultivated plant indoors or in greenhouses elsewhere
Plant Size About 30–40 meters (98–131 ft.) (rarely up to 60 meters or 200 feet) tall, with a stout trunk up to 2 meters (6.6 ft.) in diameter
Bark Pale to dark brown with a smooth surface and the inner bark pale brown with abundant white or cream colored latex.
Trunk Cylindrical, unbranched up a long way and then with much-branched leafy canopy, but frequently swollen towards the base
Leaf Elliptic to oblong leaves 6-30 cm long and 5-15 cm wide, acuminate at apex, rounded at base, glabrous, smooth, leathery, gray to brown when dry; petioles 2.5-5 cm long, glabrous, yellowish-brown to black, stipules (0.4-) 5-15 cm long, glabrous to seríceas
Flower Flowers are produced in the interior of an axillary inflorescence and they have a creamy white color
Fruit Shape & Size 3-lobed, 3-seeded ellipsoidal capsule. Fruits burst open when ripe and the seeds are scattered up to 15 m from tree
Seed Variable in size, 2.5-3 cm long, mottled brown, lustrous
Propagation By seed, cuttings and air layering
Plant Parts Used Rootlets, bark and latex
Health Benefits
  • Decreased Chances of Getting Allergies
  • Natural Anti-Inflammation
  • Natural Analgesic
  • Promotes Stomach Health
Culinary Uses
  • Young leaves are eaten as vegetable.
  • The very young leaf tips, harvested before the leaves have expanded, are eaten as a salad.
Precautions
  • The sap of the plant is may irritate skin and causes stomach trouble. Therefore keep the plant away from pets and children.

Root

Rubber Plant is another typical epiphyte plant. It grows on the branches of various tropical tree species and develops aerial blastogenic roots that penetrate the soil. The aerial part of these roots becomes trunkish ‘strangling’ the host tree. In cultivation, it often develops an extensive surface root system.

Trunk

The trunk is cylindrical, unbranched up a long way and then with much-branched leafy canopy, but frequently swollen towards the base. The bark is pale to dark brown with a smooth surface and the inner bark pale brown with abundant white or cream colored latex. The trunk develops aerial and buttressing roots to anchor it in the soil and help support heavy branches.

Trunk/branches branches droop; not showy; typically one trunk; no thorns
Bark brown, smooth, or slightly rough
Pruning requirement needed for strong structure
Breakage susceptible to breakage
Current year twig color green
Current year twig thickness Thick
Wood specific gravity Unknown

 

Leaves

Leaves are broad shiny oval 10–35 centimeters (3.9–13.8 in) long and 5–15 centimeters (2.0–5.9 in) broad. Leaf size is largest on young plants (occasionally to 45 centimeters or 18 inches long), much smaller on old trees (typically 10 centimeters or 3.9 inches long). The leaves develop inside a sheath at the apical meristem, which grows larger as the new leaf develops. When it is mature, it unfurls and the sheath drops off the plant. Inside the new leaf, another immature leaf is waiting to develop. They are relatively thick, acuminate at apex and have a round base. Their petioles are leathery, yellowish brown to black and have a length of 2.5 to 5 cm (1-2 in).

Leaf arrangement Alternate
Leaf type Simple
Leaf Margin Entire
Leaf shape Elliptic (oval)
Leaf Venation Pinnate, brachidodrome
Leaf type and persistence Evergreen, broadleaf evergreen
Leaf blade length 3 ½ to 12 inches
Leaf Color Emerge red but turn dark glossy green
Fall Color No color change
Fall Characteristics Not showy

 

Flowers

The flowers are produced in the interior of an axillary inflorescence and they have a creamy white color. The males consist of 4 sepals of ovate shape and bear a solitary stamen with ovoid anther. The females consist of 4 ovate-shaped sepals and have a short style with papillate stigma.

Flower Color Unknown
Flower Characteristics not showy; emerge inside the fleshy fruit produced by this tree

Fruit

Fertile flower are followed by 3-lobed, 3-seeded ellipsoidal capsule. Fruits burst open when ripe and the seeds are scattered up to 15 m from tree. Seeds are variable in size, 2.5-3 cm long, mottled brown, lustrous.

Fruit shape Egg-shaped
Fruit length ½ inch
Fruit covering fleshy fig
Fruit color greenish-yellow
Fruit characteristics does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem
Fruiting Early Summer

 

Range

The natural range of rubber ranges from Nepal in the north to Indonesia, Bhutan, northeastern India, Burma and China (Yunnan) and Malaysia. It has been widely introduced in most tropical regions of the world, including Hawaii and the West Indies. Finally, in Europe, it can be found in the sheltered gardens of the Côte d’Azur and on the Spanish and Italian coast.

Health Benefits of Rubber Plant

Listed below are few of the popular health benefits of Rubber Plant

1. Decreased Chances of Getting Allergies

One of the greatest health benefits of the Rubber Plant regarding air purification is its ability to minimize the chances of an individual getting respiration allergies such as asthma. Thanks to the fact that this plant also helps increase humidity within a room, it prevents pollutants and other unwanted particles to eventually turn into dust.

2. Natural Anti-Inflammation

Leaves of this plant have the power to cure skin rash. This can be done by frequently rubbing the affected area with mashed fresh leaves. Plant’s roots can also help cure rheumatic diseases. Combine 30-50 grams of its roots with 2 glasses of water and boil this until it remains just 1 glass of it. Let it cool down and drink the water.

3. Natural Analgesic

Leaves of the Ficus Elastica plant are also known to contain analgesic substances that can help cure inflammation. Simply mash the fresh leaves and rub the affected area with them. Besides using it on the skin, the plant can also be used to treat teeth inflammation. Instead of rubbing the mashed leaves, put them in a cup of water and gargle the mixture.

4. Promotes Stomach Health

Although it hasn’t been scientifically proven, many people use the leaves of this plant to keep their stomach healthy. Being a natural ingredient that does not contain any artificial chemicals, there is really no harm in using the Ficus Elastic. Nevertheless, it is never a bad idea to consult with your healthcare professional first.

Traditional uses and benefits of Rubber Plant

  • Decoction of the aerial rootlets is used as a vulnera.
  • Latex has been successfully used to treat five cases of trichuriasis.
  • Fruit contains a substance called mucilage which is very helpful with a host of stomach problems such nausea, general pain or digestive problems.
  • Dry and raw figs can be very beneficial for constipation.
  • Dry fig water is a great mouth cleaner and helps to cure Mouth sores and inflammation.
  • Mouth disorders can be healed with fig water.
  • It can also help if you have a cough.
  • Milky white material in the leaves can be applied to the insect bites.
  • It can heal the bite rash and itching quickly.
  • You can also apply the latex on warts and corns to heal them.
  • Crushed aerial or adventitious rootlets are used for healing wounds, cuts and sores.
  • Crushed bark is used to check bleeding of wounds.
  • Latex is recommended in decoction, for parasitic worms.
  • Decoction of aerial rootlets used as vulnerary for wounds, cuts, and sores in Philippines.
  • Latex is used for parasitic worms (trichuris trichura) in panama.
  • It is used as fertility enhancement in Northern Cameroon.
  • It is used in the treatment of muscle and joint pain in West Africa.
  • Kernels consist of oil, which is used in soap making, paints, varnishes, and is effective against houseflies and lice.

Control Methods

Physical control

F. elastica trees may grow very large and mechanical removal may only be possible with smaller trees.

Chemical control

Fig trees are mainly sensitive to triclopyr herbicides as a basal or cut-stump treatment. Trees found growing on concrete or rock structures should be treated with herbicide while young to avoid costly structural damage. Use extreme caution while applying herbicide to figs growing as epiphytes to ensure that the poison does not contact the host tree. When exotic figs germinate high in the branches of large trees in natural forest communities, it may be extremely difficult to get close enough to the fig to treat it.”

Biological control

Nadel et al. report several pests that could be looked at for biological control potential including various ants which were seen carrying off pollinator wasps from Ficus fruits, Hymenoptera and mites that may be parasites of the pollinator wasps, and staphylinids which were seen entering Ficus fruits and eating the pollinator wasps.

Cultural control

Pollinator wasps should be prevented from entering Hawai’i in order to prevent spread of F. elastica. Other native or non-harmful non-native trees could be planted.

Other Facts

  • Latex is obtained from the bark of the stem and larger branches.
  • It can be used for all applications of natural rubber, such as tyres, rubber components for cars and machines and consumer products such as footwear, sport goods, toys and gloves.
  • Traditionally, latex is used to line baskets of split rattan, to make them watertight, and has sundry other applications.
  • Latex of wild as well as planted trees can be collected by tapping the bark, generally only of the stem and larger branches, though root bark may also be tapped.
  • Scrap and the coagulated latex are pressed into blocks, cakes or sheets before being traded.
  • Latex showed toxicity to the juveniles of the nematode Meloidogyne javanica.
  • Fibrous bark has been used for the manufacture of clothes and ropes.
  • Wood is of poor quality, but is occasionally applied for boards, posts, boats and fuel.
  • In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries it was heavily cultivated for commercial rubber production, but fell into disuse with the rise in production of the higher-quality ‘para’ rubber, Hevea brasiliensis.
  • Trunk and stems exude a milky sap, or latex.
  • Rubber Plant as ornamental lives from 25 to 50 years. When native to the tropical regions of the planet can reach up to the age of 200 – not at all bad performance.
  • Fibrous bark has been used for the manufacture of clothes and ropes.
  • Wood is of poor quality and occasionally applied for boards, posts, boats and fuel.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=19085#null

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=70291

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ficus+elastica

https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/24090

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b597

http://www.hear.org/pier/species/ficus_elastica.htm

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=FIEL

https://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/718/#b

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl/record/kew-2810307

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/FIUEL

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ficus_elastica

https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st252

http://www.starrenvironmental.com/publications/species_reports/pdf/ficus_elastica.pdf

http://www.narc.gov.jo/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=70291

http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Rubber%20Tree.html

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