Where are rubber trees grow

Rubber Plant Information: Taking Care Of A Rubber Plant Outdoors

The rubber tree is a large houseplant and most people find it is easy to grow and care for indoors. However, some people ask about growing outdoor rubber tree plants. In fact, in some areas, this plant is used as a screen or patio plant. So, can you grow rubber plant outside? Read more to learn about taking care of a rubber plant outside in your area.

Can You Grow Rubber Plants Outside?

Gardeners in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11 can grow the plant outdoors, according to most rubber plant information. Outdoor rubber tree plants (Ficus elastica) may grow in Zone 9 if winter protection is offered. In this area, outdoor rubber tree plants should be planted on the north or east side of a building for protection from the wind. When the plant is young, prune it to a single trunk, as these plants tend to split when caught in the wind.

Rubber plant information also says to plant the tree in a shady area, although some plants accept light, dappled shade. Thick, glabrous leaves burn easily when exposed to sunlight. Those living in tropical zones outside of the United States can grow outdoor rubber tree plants easily, as this is their native environment.

In the wild, outdoor rubber tree plants can reach 40 to 100 feet (12-30.5 m.) in height. When using this plant as an outdoor ornamental, pruning limbs and the top of the plant make it sturdier and more compact.

Rubber Plant Information for Northern Areas

If you live in a more northern area and want to grow outdoor rubber tree plants, plant them in a container. Taking care of a rubber plant growing in a container can include locating them outdoors during seasons of warm temperatures. Optimum temperatures for taking care of a rubber plant outdoors are 65 to 80 F. (18-27 C.) Outdoors, plants acclimated to cooler temperatures should be brought indoors before temperatures reach 30 F. (-1 C.).

Taking Care of a Rubber Plant Outdoors

Rubber plant information suggests plants require deep watering and then allow the soil to dry out almost completely. Some sources say containerized plants should be allowed to dry out completely between waterings. Still, other sources say the drying of the soil causes leaves to drop. Keep an eye on your rubber tree growing outdoors and use good judgment on watering, depending on its location.

Fertilize the outdoor rubber tree with food for acid-loving plants, such as those for azaleas.

My husband says I like to play God with houseplants. I push them to the brink and then, just when the game is up, I work a miracle and water them a bit. This is probably true – I’m a bit neglectful of my indoor life when summer is here.

But I wouldn’t want to spend a winter indoors without houseplants. They do a wonderful job of removing pollutants from our indoor environment – filtering out chemicals in manufactured goods and giving us back clean air. That is, if they are healthy; sickly houseplants can’t work that hard. So if a plant’s limping along, I take note.

I have grown many houseplants; orchids, cacti, big-leafed tropicals, dry-loving pelargoniums. Here are four that are hard to kill (if you do, it’s because you over-watered them).

We love spider plants in our house – green or variegated, we’re not fussy. They’re good at removing pollutants (get one next to your computer quick) and plant them up in ridiculous pots. Your imagination is the only thing between you and a spider plant housed in a glow-in-the dark plastic Halloween pumpkin. Mine spend the summer outside getting wet, are repotted every three or four years, fed once in a blue moon and watered when I remember.

Streptocarpus are a new favourite because they are tolerant and go limp when thirsty (though they also go limp when they are too wet), but as long as the soil is dry, you water, they perk up and throw out a few more flowers. They do best in partial shade, such as a north-facing window. All you have to do it pick off dead flowers and leaves.

Aloe vera is a living pharmacy. It works wonders on sunburn, burns, cuts and insect bites. Snap off a leaf, scrape out the gel and apply. Aloes grow fast if loved and you will soon have many babies to give away. Allow the plant to dry out between watering. Place it somewhere sunny indoors (it can spend the summer outside, but is not frost-hardy) Feed it once a year. Unlike many houseplants, it releases oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide at night, so it’s a good one to put by the bed.

The rubber plant, Ficus elastica ‘Robusta’ (pictured), will make your front room look like a Victorian seance parlour, but no other plant rivals it for removing chemical pollutants. It can tolerate temperatures as low as 5C, meaning the north-facing bay window is a happy home. It is particularly good at removing formaldehyde vapours (used in glues for plywood, particle board and pressure timber products). If you’ve got flat-pack furniture, you should probably own a rubber plant.

• This piece was amended on 3 October, 2011. The original headline advertised five plants that are hard to kill, when only four were named.

Rubber tree

Honestly, I chose to write about the rubber tree (a.k.a Ficus elastica) for our first ‘my favourite plant’ segment, because I have a huge one in my flat, looming dramatically over my bed.

But I actually followed through on that thought because of Living Root Bridges. Which just look friggin’ cool.

The ficus, or fig genus is pretty huge – up to about 850 members- so you’re probably already somewhat familiar with this family. Our dear old rubber tree is cousin to the tasty fruit-bearing Ficus carica (proper figs), but also to a couple of ornamental plants. You might know Ficus benjamina (a.k.a the weeping ficus)- the plant that everyone’s parents had in the 70’s and which I pretty much associate with fallen leaves and dust). And you’ve probably also come across Ficus lyrata, the oh-so-trendy fiddle-leaf fig of the late twenty-teens.

Back to the Rubber trees. Don’t be fooled by the name. Although Ficus elastica does make a kind of milky latex sap, it’s not really able to be used to make rubber. That fame belongs to the Para rubber tree, a.k.a Hevea brasiliensis. Our rubber tree is mostly just an ornamental plant. But it does also have a second life… in bridge building.

In northeast India, and in some parts of Indonesia, the young, pliable aerial roots of the rubber tree are guided across bodies of water, and rooted in the opposite shore. Forming a complete bridge requires multiple roots, often twisted around one another, and a whole lot of time: the young roots gain strength only as they thicken and harden with age.

The living bridges can be built in different ways. For example, the may be stabilized with additional plant material, such as bamboo or palm trunks. Amazingly, while these dead plant materials will gradually decay with time, the living parts of the bridge will only become stronger with age… providing that the Ficus elastica stays alive and healthy.

In the end, you get something like this:

Joram drew us this, but I seriously suggest you go and do a quick image search. Living bridges can be up to 50 m long, over 1.5 m wide, hold up to 500 people, and ‘live’ (in their new bridge form) for up to 500 years!

Pretty cool eh?

Rubber Tree Stock Photos

Rubber tree. Green rubber tree with lovely sunshineRubber tree. With milk bucket to fill the rubberRubber tree. Tapping latex from a rubber tree & x28;Hevea Brasiliensis& x29;. Kanchanaburi, ThailandRubber Tree Roots. Rubber tree with spreading roots in a green park in Marrakesh, MoroccoRubber Tree. Tapping rubber from a tree in Bahia, BrazilRubber tree. In the Malaysian rubber tree. Gently cut tree barkRubber tree. Producer of latexHandling the Rubber Tree. Extration in a rubber tree dripping latex raw in amazonian native production Rubber tree with a pot on the trunk. On the tropical rubber farm in the jungle Branches of a rubber tree bottom view on white background, large rounded isolated green leaves. Elements for card, poster desing. Rubber tree garden. Product for rubber industrial Rubber Tree And Latex. Close Up Of Rubber Tree,Show How To Collect the Latex Tapping Latex From A Rubber Tree. SRI LANKA – december 2015 : tapping latex from a rubber tree Rubber Tree. Tapping latex from a rubber tree in Sumatra, Indonesia Rubber tree. Isolated on white Rubber Tree. Milk of rubber tree flows into a wooden bowl The rubber tree. The rubber (latex) that come out from tree Rubber tree. Tapped rubber tree with latex Fruit of Rubber tree. On leaves Dew on Rubber Tree Plant. Drops of morning dew on leaves and new red growth of rubber tree plant Rubber Tree. Milky latex extracted from rubber tree (Hevea Brasiliensis) as a source of natural rubber A rubber tree. Tapping latex from a rubber tree in Melaka Malaysia Rubber tree. Tapping sap from the rubber tree in Sri Lanka Rubber tree. Tapping sap from the rubber tree in Sri Lanka Rubber tree. Tapping sap from the rubber tree in Sri Lanka Working in a Rubber Tree. Dripping raw latex in amazonian native production Rubber Tree – Hevea Brasiliensis – Collection of Latex – Rubber Tapping in Kerala, India. This is a photograph of a a rubber tree – hevea brasiliensis in a Rubber Tree Background. Rubber Tree Plantation,Tropical tree,In Malaysia,Southeast Asia Branches of a rubber tree bottom view on white background, large rounded isolated green leaves. Elements for card, poster desing. Rubber Tree dripping latex. Rubber Tree dripping raw latex in amazonian native production Rubber tree plantation on a sunny day. Forest lane in a rubber tree plantation on a sunny day Rubber latex in bowl extracted from rubber tree plantation agriculture in asia for natural latex. Rubber latex in bowl extracted from rubber tree plantation Rubber tree garden line. From the kind of crops. Has been grown widely in Vietnam. Photo taken on: Juillet 03rd, 2015 Leaf rubber tree. Leaf rubber tree for background Rubber tree. At south of Thailand Rubber Tree Frog Toy. A stretchy rubber red and blue tree frog against a black background Rubber latex drop from a rubber tree. Close-up of the rubber latex drop from a rubber tree Rubber tree. And equipment for put milk Seeds of rubber tree. On white background Rubber tree. Water timber flows from the rubber tree Close up of cup rubber with asian women tapping rubber tree. Background Rubber tree. Tapped rubber tree with latex Rubber tree. Isolated on white background, Hevea brasiliensis Rubber tree. Tapping latex from a rubber tree Rubber tree. Tapping latex from a rubber tree Rubber tree. Tapping latex from a rubber tree Rubber latex drop from a rubber tree. Close-up of the rubber latex drop from a rubber tree Rubber tree broken. Rubber tree broken by strong winds Latex extracted from rubber tree. (Hevea Brasiliensis) source of natural rubber Dew on Rubber Tree Plant. Drops of morning dew on leaves and new red growth of rubber tree plant Rubber tree seeds. In isolate Rubber tree. Tapped rubber tree with latex Young rubber tree. Forest for rubber industry on white background Rubber latex of rubber tree. Dropped rubber from the rubber tree. Through the cup. Tire is made from this amazing tree. And many stuff made from this tree Dropped rubber from the rubber tree. Through the cup. Tire is made from this amazing tree. And many stuff made from this tree Rubber tree. A rubber tree producing latex Gum of rubber tree. Scratches on trunk of rubber tree to get it’s rubber gum Rubber tree. Tapping latex from a rubber tree Rubber Tree Plantation. In Surat Thani, Thailand People cutting Tapped rubber tree with knife. People cutting Tapped rubber tree with knife Unexpectedly a big rubber tree fell on a parked red car on a calm and sunny day. San Pablo City, Laguna, Philippines – June 11, 2016: Unexpectedly a big rubber Milky latex extracted from rubber tree or a.k.a. Hevea Brasiliensis as a source of natural rubber. MALACCA, MALAYSIA – SEPTEMBER 25, 2015: Rubber trees or Rubber tree. Rubber latex from rubber tree farm at thailand Rubber tree plantation. A rubber tree plantation in Cambodia Rubber tree row agricultural. Hevea brasiliensis green leaves background. Rubber tree row agricultural. Hevea brasiliensis green leaves background Tapping rubber tree. Tapping a rubber tree with latex sap being collected in a coconut shell Rubber Tree and women beautiful Thailand. Rubber Tree And Latex with woman beautiful Thailand agriculturist at rubber plantation Milky latex extracted from rubber tree (Hevea Brasiliensis). As a source of natural rubber Milky latex extracted from rubber tree (Hevea Brasiliensis). As a source of natural rubber Rubber tree. And rubber tapping Rubber tree. And rubber tapping Rubber tree. With natural rubber in white milk color drop to the bowl or pot at plantation natural latex is a agriculture harvesting for industry in Thailand Rubber tree. With natural rubber in white milk color drop to the bowl or pot at plantation natural latex is a agriculture harvesting for industry in Thailand Rubber tree. With natural rubber in white milk color drop to the bowl or pot at plantation natural latex is a agriculture harvesting for industry in Thailand Selective focus image of latex extracted from rubber tree for natural rubber industries. Closed up and selective focus image of latex extracted from rubber tree Rubber tree. In south of thailand Enchanting Forest Lane in a Rubber Tree Plantation Concept Rubber Tree Plantation at Kerala. TATA TEA Plantation & Rubber Tree Plant at Munnar, kerala Rubber Tree. Tapping latex from a rubber tree in Sumatra, Indonesia

Rubber tree plants are tough, showy, evergreen plants from the tropical forests of Asia. It is known by the name Ficus elastica, or India rubber plant. But it’s not in any way related to the true rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis – a relative of the Christmas plant poinsettia – cultivated for the production of natural rubber/latex. Nevertheless, this large-leaved decorative plant belonging to the fig and the banyan tree family is an even bigger tropical tree.

Identification

Rubber tree fruit

The thick, leathery, oval-shaped large leaves with interesting color or pattern are the main attraction of a rubber plant, but some have bright red or orange leaf sheaths too. They enclose unopened leaves in a tight roll and stand out like bright candles among the dark foliage.

Flowers and fruits are rarely seen in plants grown indoors, but some mature specimens may have oval fruits at the leaf nodes. As with all plants of the fig family, the flower and fruit are one and the same from the outside. It is actually a type of inflorescence (cluster of flowers) called hypanthodium that needs specific wasp species for pollination. Rubber plants are propagated either through tissue culture or layering.

Some rubber plants are sold as Ficus robusta, but it is only a hardier cultivar of F. elastica just like another compact cultivar sold as ‘Decora’ and a variegated variety as ‘Doescheri’. It is better to go by the color and pattern of the plant than by its name alone. Many nurserymen use growth retardants to keep the plant compact and bushy. Light conditions can also change the pigmentation and habit of these plants.

Popular Varieties

  • F. elastica ‘Doescheri’ – Dark green, cream and muted green patches
  • F. elastica ‘Tineke’ – Green leaves with cream variegation and pink highlights referred to as strawberry-cream

Ficus elastica ‘Burgundy’

  • F. elastica ‘Black Prince’ – Very dark leaves with bronze undertones and red leaf sheath
  • F. elastica ‘Ruby’ – Green and cream leaves washed with bright red and red veins and leaf sheaths
  • F. elastica ‘Burgundy’ – Dark reddish green leaves as the name implies; it may be having dark-red leaf sheaths

Care and Maintenance

Rubber tree plants are not fussy, provided they get a brightly lit spot and some water. At the same time, you cannot say they thrive in neglect because regular care and occasional feeding can bring out shiny leaves and lush growth, the two best attributes of this plant.

It doesn’t matter what your USDA zone is if you intend to keep your F. elastica plant indoors. The ideal temperature range is 75-80 Farenheight (F). This native of the tropics is stressed when it is cooler than 60 F and when the temperature rises above 80 F without the moderating effect of humidity.

They grow extremely well outdoors in zones 10 and 11; so well that it can be dangerous to plant one close to your house or retaining wall. Its thick and prolific roots can be a menace. In fact, they are so strong, they can be braided and turned into living bridges across country streams. Pruning doesn’t discourage root growth.

Many people in zones 8 and 9 also manage to grow F. elastica in their garden with limited success. The plant may lose leaves when temperatures fall, but hard pruning in late fall and some frost protection may keep them going.

Light

Landscape example

A sunny spot or partial shade is ideal for a rubber plant growing outdoors, but an indoor specimen needs only bright light. Rubber plants may tolerate low light conditions for a short period, but they are not as tolerant as the snake plant sansevieria or the pothos money plant. The variegated ones and those with colorful highlights will lose some of their bright pigmentation in low light and the burgundy one may become greener. Lanky growth with fewer leaves is another consequence of insufficient light.

At the same time, too much exposure can burn the leaves and change the color patterns. Solid green and burgundy are not as affected by excess light.

Water

Rubber plants are naturally resistant to drought as most plants with milky latex are. When grown as houseplants, they seem to appreciate regular watering, but it is the humid microclimate created by the damp soil that helps the plant more. It is better to allow the soil to dry out between watering to avoid root rot. You can kill a rubber plant more quickly by over watering than by under watering. Increase the humidity by misting the leaves or keeping a dishful of water by the pot.

Pruning

Rubber plants are usually propagated by layering, so the young plant you bring home may be having a single thick stem unless it is already made bushy pruning. Left to itself, each stem may grow several feet and start losing the lower leaves. You can prune your plant regularly to promote branching.

If the plant is single-stemmed, wait until it is two feet tall, and then prune it to half the height. Or you can let it grow six feet tall and then trim at five feet to make an interesting ‘standard.’

Indoor rubber plants can be trimmed any time of the year, but late spring or early summer will help the plant rebound faster. Also, you will have a better chance at rooting a few of those cuttings to make more plants.

How to Propogate Rubber Tree Plants

If you already have a rubber plant, you can make several new ones by air layering, a nearly foolproof technique.

Steps

You will need some sphagnum moss, a plastic sheet, and string. Follow these easy steps:

  1. Make a slanting upward cut halfway through a stem and spread rooting powder on the cut.
  2. Insert dampened moss in the wedge, and cover the area with more damp moss, enveloping it with plastic sheet and securing it in place with string.
  3. Roots will develop in four to six weeks.
  4. Cut it off the mother plant and pot it up.

When you prune, try rooting the tip cuttings directly in a pot. Or get a few cuttings of a different variety from a friend. Just stick them in pots filled with a mixture of peat moss and perlite after dipping the cut ends in rooting hormone. Keep the mix damp and watch out for roots emerging from the drainage holes. Providing gentle bottom heat may speed things up a bit.

Potting

Potted rubber plant

Select a pot size that suits the height of your rooted cutting or purchased plant. Since they have a tendency to be top-heavy, large-sized pots are best. You can avoid frequent repotting too. A regular houseplant potting soil is good enough for the rubber plant as long as good drainage is ensured. Fill the pot half way with soil.

Remove the plant gently from its growing medium and ease out the tangled roots with the tip of a pencil. Place it in the pot and fill in more soil until it comes up to three-quarters of the height of the pot. Firm it up around the plant. Water thoroughly and allow excess water to drain off. Water again when the soil on the surface begins to dry.

Pests and Diseases

Rubber plants are not troubled by many pests or plant diseases, but scale insects can infest the leaves and young branches. Neem oil spray works well against them, but if the plant is big, it may not be practical. Since contact insecticides will not work, you may need a systemic insecticide such as imidacloprid.

Yellow and brown leaf spots may be caused by Cercospora fungus. A fungicidal spray can be used against it.

Both the above problems can be limited to some extent by removing the affected branches.

Toxicity

ASPCA has included Ficus elastica as a plant that may cause “moderate gastrointestinal tract irritation” to cats, but it is listed as non-toxic to humans by the California Poison Control System. But be on the safer side while pruning or breaking off leaves from you rubber plant as the latex may cause mild skin irritation and severe eye irritation on contact. Eating any plant parts may cause vomiting and mild gastric problems.

Fill Some Space

If you have some space that needs vertical interest, consider a rubber tree plant, whether indoors or out. You can find rubber tree plants at most garden centers or purchase through online retailers. Just be sure to give it lots of room to spread and be happy.

Rubber Tree Pictures

Welcome to our rubber tree pictures page.

On this page you will find lots of nice pictures of rubber trees.

You will also find a lot of wonderful information on rubber trees, including information about the rubber tree species, planting information, and much more.

This is valuable and useful information that can help you to learn more about the rubber tree.

To view each rubber tree picture in full size just click on the pictures.

Enjoy theses pictures of Rubber Trees.

Rubber Tree Picture Gallery

Rubber Tree Facts

Here is some general information on the rubber tree.

Hevea brasiliensis, the Para rubber tree, often simply called rubber tree, is a tree belonging to the family Euphorbiaceae and the most economically important member of the genus Hevea. It is of major economic importance because its sap-like extract (known as latex) can be collected and is the primary source of natural rubber.

In the wilderness, the tree can reach a height of up to 144 feet (44 m). The white or yellow latex occurs in latex vessels in the bark, mostly outside the phloem. These vessels spiral up the tree in a right-handed helix which forms an angle of about 30 degrees with the horizontal, and can grow as high as 45 ft.

In plantations, the trees are kept smaller, up to 78 feet (24 m) tall, so as to use most of the available carbon dioxide for latex production.

The tree requires a climate with heavy rainfall and without frost. If frost does occur, the results can be disastrous for production. One frost can cause the rubber from an entire plantation to become brittle and break once it has been refined.

Once the trees are 5 to 6 years old, harvesting can begin: incisions are made orthogonally to the latex vessels, just deep enough to tap the vessels without harming the tree’s growth, and the sap is collected in small buckets. This process is known as rubber tapping. Older trees yield more latex.

The Para rubber tree initially grew only in the Amazon Rainforest. Increasing demand and the discovery of the vulcanization procedure in 1839 led to the rubber boom in that region, enriching the cities of Belem and Manaus.

Thank you for visiting our Rubber Tree Pictures, please come back soon for some more great tree pictures!

BookMark This Page

Impressive Tree Pictures

Collection of Impressive Tree Images

Autumn Fall Trees Images Bermuda Tree Photos
Christmas Tree Pictures Hibiscus Tree Flowers
Winter Tree Pictures Impressive Tree Pictures
Forest Tree Paths Photos Oak Tree Pictures
Cedar Trees Photos Pine Tree Pictures

Trees: Recent Tree Photos, Pics & Images

Palm Tree Pictures

Beech Trees

Palm Trees

Oak Tree Gallery

Christmas Trees

Maple Trees

Apple Tree Photo Gallery

Apple Tree Images

Palm Trees Gallery

Japanese Maple Trees

Pine Tree Gallery

Willow Trees Category

Tree Pictures Online can be viewed in 100 + Languages

To view Tree Pictures Online tree categories in your preferred language click on the “Select Language” scroll down menu to your language … select language and then wait a moment for the translated Tree Pictures pages to appear. Enjoy these Tree Pictures.

Tree wallpaper images can make beautiful backgrounds on your computer`s desktop. See our tree wallpaper photographs link in the left tree categories.

Thank you for visiting our Tree Pictures at TreePicture Online.com, please come back soon for more great tree photos!

Pictures Sites

Fireplace Pictures – Tree Pictures – Gazebo Pictures – Symbols & Their Meanings
Resume Samples – Church Pictures – Manufactured Home Pictures
Natural Log Siding – Shadow Puppets – Caribbean Islands
Play Touch Games – Waterfall Pictures
Make Hot Pictures – Job Application Forms

Rubber Tree

Historically, cattle ranchers and rubber tappers have disagreed over the rights to clear forest land. Cutting down the forest is not only detrimental to the species that depend on that land, but also damaging to the people that earn a living by sustainably harvesting what the forest provides. Many indigenous people depend on these sources of income to provide for their families and communities.

Chico Mendes, a Brazilian rubber tapper, became famous when he organized the National Council of Rubber Tappers in Brazil to help protest against the clear cutting of land for cattle grazing. Thanks to his efforts, the union gained the support of the Brazilian government and was able to set aside crucial “extractive reserves” within Brazil. These reserves allow for the sustainable harvest of goods, such as rubber or nuts, and protect against the clear cutting of trees. In 1988, Chico Mendes was murdered for his work to create extractive reserves and protect the rainforest. His efforts have been carried on by his coworkers and supporters across the world.

How Rubber Works

­The Mesoamerican peoples, such as the Mayans and the Aztecs, first tapped rubber from one of several trees found in Central and South America:

  • Hevea braziliensis: the most common commercial rubber tree from Brazil
  • Hevea guyanensis: originally found in French Guyana
  • Castilla elastica: sometimes called the Mexican rubber tree or the Panama rubber tree

Explorers and colonists brought samples of these trees when they headed back to Europe. Eventually, seeds from these trees were transported to rubber plantations in other tropical climates during the era of European colonialism.

Advertisement

Currently, most natural rubber comes from Latin American-derived trees transplanted to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia), as w­ell as India, Sri Lanka and Africa. In these areas, you can find other rubber-producing trees including:

  • Ficus elastica: found in Java and Malaysia. This species is also a common tropical houseplant.
  • Funtumia elastica: grows in West Africa
  • Landolphia owariensis located in the Congo basin

Of all of these trees, the best rubber-producing tree is H. braziliensis.

It takes about six years for a rubber tree to grow to a point where it’s economical to harvest the sap, which is called latex. Here’s how you tap one: The collector makes a thin, diagonal cut to remove a sliver of bark. The milky-white latex fluid runs out of the bark, much as blood would run out of a small superficial wound on your skin. The fluid runs down the cut and is collected in a bucket. After about six hours, the fluid stops flowing. In that six-hour period, a tree can usually fill a gallon bucket. The tree can be tapped again with another fresh cut, usually the next day.

The Mesoamericans would dry the collected rubber latex and make balls and other things, like shoes. They would dip their feet in the latex and allow it to dry. After several dips and dryings, they could peel a shoe from their feet. Next, they smoked their new rubber shoes to harden them. The Mesoamericans also waterproofed fabrics by coating them with latex and allowing it to dry. This process was used to make rubber items until around the 1800s.

Columbus brought back rubber balls with him upon returning from his second voyage to the New World, and in the early 1700s, rubber samples and trees were brought back to Europe. At that time, rubber was still a novelty. Rubber made in the Mesoamerican way resembled a pencil eraser. It was soft and pliable. In 1770, the chemist Joseph Priestley was the first to use rubber to erase lead marks. He coined the word “rubber” because he could remove the lead marks by rubbing the material on them.

While it was useful for waterproofing fabrics and making homemade shoes, rubber had its problems. You can see these problems for yourself with a simple rubber pencil eraser. Take that eraser and place it under intense heat for several minutes. What do you see? The eraser should get very soft and sticky. Next, do the opposite — place the eraser on ice or in a freezer for several minutes. What do you see? The eraser should get hard and brittle. The same thing happened to early rubber. Imagine what it would be like to walk around in your rubber shoes on a hot or cold day back then. The shoes wouldn’t wear well. Likewise, your rubberized clothing might stick to your chair while you were sitting, especially on a warm day.

Keep reading to learn what makes rubber so intrinsically stretchy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *