The rubber plant is most typically found in southern parts of Asia, where it can grow as tall as 60 metres. It gets its name from the white latex coursing through its veins, which was once used to make rubber. Way back in 1400BC, the Mesoamerican people would mix latex from the rubber plant with juice from a Morning glory plant to make bouncy balls, which they used in a game called ollamaliztil. In English the game is known as pok-a-tok. Sadly, the rules are lost to history.
The rubber plant is not often used for its latex these days. It’s much more popular as a houseplant, loved for its thick, rubbery leaves. Those big leaves like a lot of light. Direct sun can be too harsh, but lots of indirect light will make this ex-sports star very happy. It will also appreciate a feed with liquid fertiliser once per month in spring and summer.
If you’d prefer this plant with dark green leaves, check out Rob’s brother Robin.
Did you know?
In parts of India, the rubber tree’s incredibly strong roots have been trained to form ‘living bridges’ over small rivers.