1. Family: Euphorbiaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Hevea Aubl.
      1. Hevea brasiliensis (Willd. ex A.Juss.) Müll.Arg.

        Hevea brasiliensis is native to Brazil (parts of the Amazon Basin and Matto Grosso) and the Guianas, but most of the world's rubber comes from plantations in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. Although rubber is still tapped from wild trees in the Amazon basin, production in South American plantations is hampered by a fungal disease known as South American leaf blight.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Hevea brasiliensis, better known as the rubber tree, is the primary source of natural rubber.

    Hevea brasiliensis is native to Brazil (parts of the Amazon Basin and Matto Grosso) and the Guianas, but most of the world's rubber comes from plantations in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. Although rubber is still tapped from wild trees in the Amazon basin, production in South American plantations is hampered by a fungal disease known as South American leaf blight.

    The genus Hevea is a member of the family Euphorbiaceae. Only three species of the genus yield usable rubber, Hevea brasiliensis, Hevea guianensis and Hevea benthamiana. Other species have too high a ratio of resin to rubber in their latex. Hevea brasiliensis is the only species planted commercially and is the primary source of natural rubber.

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    Wild and semi-wild Hevea brasiliensis is found in the northern part of South America, from Brazil to Venezuela, and Colombia to Peru and Bolivia. Rubber is now grown in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, China, India and Papua New Guinea in Asia, as well as in Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Liberia and Gabon in Africa.

    Description

    Hevea brasiliensis is a deciduous tree, typically 30-40 m tall, though usually 15-25 m tall in cultivation, with a leafy crown. The trunk is cylindrical, but frequently swollen towards the base, and the bark is pale to dark brown with a smooth surface and the inner bark pale brown with abundant white or cream coloured latex. The leaves are in spirals and with three leaflets. The flowers are small with no petals, bright or cream-yellow in colour and extremely pungent.They are either male or female but both are found in the same inflorescence. The fruit is an exploding 3-lobed capsule.

    In the wild, trees may grow to over 40 m and live for 100 years, but in plantations they rarely exceed 25 m because growth is reduced by tapping for rubber. Plantation trees are usually replanted after 25-35 years when yields fall to an uneconomic level.

    Uses

    The milky latex of Hevea brasiliensis, produced by a specialised secretory system in the phloem, is the raw material for natural rubber. The latex is a renewable resource that can be sustainably tapped without harming the tree. Rubber is water-resistant, does not conduct electricity, is durable and most importantly, is highly elastic. These useful properties are due to the large and complex molecular structure of rubber.

    Rubber has been used for centuries, but its versatility was greatly improved by a process developed in the nineteenth century, vulcanisation, in which the rubber is treated with sulphur and heat. Natural rubber is used in thousands of ways, from bouncing balls, boots, balloons and latex gloves, to engineering and industrial applications. Natural rubber is more suitable than synthetic rubber for the tyres of aircraft and space shuttles.

    Felled plantation trees are used for timber – rubberwood – which has important uses in the furniture industry. The seeds contain oil that can be used in making paints and soaps.

    Cultivation

    Rubber grows best at daytime temperatures of 26°- 28° with a well distributed annual rainfall of 2,000 – 3,000 mm, and up to an altitude of c. 500 m.It will perform well on most soils as long as there is adequate drainage. These conditions are found within 10° N&S of the Equator, although it is cultivated successfully much further north in Mexico, Guatemala and China, and south to near Sao Paulo, Brazil.

    This is a tropical tree and requires hot temperatures, high humidity and well-drained, fertile soils. Fruits burst open when they are ripe and the seeds are scattered up to 33 m from the tree. Seed viability drops rapidly as soon as fruits are collected. Best results are obtained with fresh seed grown in partial shade.

    This species is difficult to propagate from cuttings; commercial plantations use bud-grafting to propagate plants.

    This species at Kew

    Two specimens of Hevea brasiliensis can be seen growing in the Palm House at Kew.

    Distribution
    Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela
    Ecology
    Rubber is a crop of the humid lowland tropics between 6ºN and 6ºS.
    Conservation
    Least Concern
    Hazards

    Proteins present in natural rubber latex may cause allergic reactions.

    [FZ]

    Euphorbiaceae, A. Radcliffe-Smith. Flora Zambesiaca 9:4. 1996

    Habit
    Tree up to 20 m tall.
    Bark
    Bark pale grey.
    Branches
    Branches ± erect.
    Twigs
    Twigs glabrous.
    Stipules
    Stipules 1 mm long, lanceolate.
    Petiole
    Petioles 6–20(30) cm long, glabrous; petiolules 1–1.5 cm long; petiole gland reniform; leaflets 7–20(25) × 3–8(10) cm, the median leaflet larger than the others, obovate to elliptic, acuminate at the apex, attenuate or cuneate at the base, chartaceous, glabrous above and beneath, somewhat glaucous beneath; midrib impressed above, prominent beneath; lateral nerves in 15–25 pairs, looped just within the margin.
    Inflorescences
    Inflorescences up to 20 cm long, subterminal below the apical tuft of leaves; axis sparingly pubescent; bracts 0.5 mm long, deltate, fugacious.
    Flowers
    Male flowers: buds ovoid, acuminate; calyx lobes 2 × 0.5 mm, narrowly lanceolate, somewhat contorted, acuminate, subacute, tomentellous; tube 1 mm long; disk ± annular; staminal column 1.5 mm high, anthers 10, in 2 whorls of 5; pistillode narrowly conical, puberulous. Female flowers: buds as in the male; calyx lobes larger than in the male, otherwise similar; tube 2 mm long; disk scarcely visible; ovary 2 × 2 mm, subglobose, minutely papillose; stigmas 0.3 mm long, ± sessile, grooved.
    Male
    Male flowers: buds ovoid, acuminate; calyx lobes 2 × 0.5 mm, narrowly lanceolate, somewhat contorted, acuminate, subacute, tomentellous; tube 1 mm long; disk ± annular; staminal column 1.5 mm high, anthers 10, in 2 whorls of 5; pistillode narrowly conical, puberulous.
    Female
    Female flowers: buds as in the male; calyx lobes larger than in the male, otherwise similar; tube 2 mm long; disk scarcely visible; ovary 2 × 2 mm, subglobose, minutely papillose; stigmas 0.3 mm long, ± sessile, grooved.
    Fruits
    Fruits c. 4 × 4.5 cm, shallowly trigonous, glabrescent.
    Seeds
    Seeds 2.3 × 1.5 cm, ovoid-cylindric, pale grey, mottled and streaked with darker grey.
    [KSP]
    Use
    The milky latex of Hevea brasiliensis is the raw material for natural rubber.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil South, Brazil West-Central, Colombia, French Guiana, Peru, Venezuela

    Introduced Into:

    Andaman Is., Assam, Bangladesh, Benin, Bismarck Archipelago, Cambodia, Central African Repu, China Southeast, Fiji, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Is., India, Malaya, Mexico Southwest, Nicobar Is., Thailand, Togo, Trinidad-Tobago, Zaïre

    Common Names

    English
    Rubber tree

    Hevea brasiliensis (Willd. ex A.Juss.) Müll.Arg. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Jan 1, 2009 Sasaki, D. [2466], Mato Grosso K000578952
    Jan 1, 2008 Sasaki, D. [2188], Mato Grosso K000578339
    Jan 1, 1978 RS [Spruce] [136], Para K000572953
    Aug 1, 1950 Glaziou, M. [8921], Rio de Janeiro K000716177
    Pennington, R.T. [81], Bolivia 56623.000
    Schultes, R.E. [8660], Brazil K001205451
    Schultes, R.E. [8082], Brazil K001205452
    Schultes, R.E. [10264], Brazil K001205453
    Schultes, R.E. [8083], Brazil K001205454
    Ducke, A. [21958], Brazil K001205455
    Ule, E. [5893], Brazil K001205456
    Spruce [18], Brazil K001205457
    Ule, E. [5353], Brazil K001205458
    s.coll. [23209] K001205459
    s.coll. [s.n.], Brazil K001205460
    Poisson, E. [s.n.], Brazil K001205461
    Vaughan, D.G. [71], Brazil K001205462
    Poisson, E. [1899/1901], Brazil K001205463
    Krukoff, B.A. [s.n.], Brazil K001205464
    Schultes, R.E. [6530], Brazil K001205465
    Schultes, R.E. [6491], Brazil K001205466
    Vaughan, D.G. [64], Brazil K001205467
    Vaughan, D.T.G. [74], Brazil K001205468
    Schultes, R.E. [8057], Brazil K001205469
    Schultes, R.E. [8063], Brazil K001205470
    Forzza, R.C. [5985], Brazil K001205471
    Krukoff, B.A. [s.n.], Brazil K001205472
    Spruce, R. [s.n.], Brazil K001205473
    Schultes, R.E. [10369], Brazil K001205474
    Baker, C. [53], Brazil K001205475
    Poisson, E. [s.n.], Brazil K001205476
    s.coll. [s.n.], Brazil K001205477
    Baker, C.F. [53], Brazil K001205478
    Burchell [10034], Brazil K001205479
    Burchell [9377/10034], Brazil K001205480
    Burchell [9826], Brazil K001205481
    Burchell [9377], Brazil K001205482
    Burchell [10034], Brazil K001205483
    Wickham, R.W. [s.n.], Brazil K001205484
    Schultes, R.E. [6530], Brazil K001205485
    Schultes, R.E. [6494], Brazil K001205486
    s.coll. [s.n.], Brazil K001205487
    Schultes, R.E. [8661], Brazil K001205488
    Schultes, R.E. [8658], Brazil K001205489
    Schultes, R.E. [8054], Brazil K001205490
    Schultes, R. [10267], Brazil K001205491
    Thomas, W. [3811], Brazil K001205492
    Anderson, A.B. [1083], Brazil K001205493
    Schultes, R.E. [8662], Brazil K001205494
    Schultes, R.E. [8662], Brazil K001205495
    Schultes, R. [6534], Brazil K001205496
    Schultes, R.E. [10292], Brazil K001205497
    Schultes, R.E. [10290], Brazil K001205498
    Schultes, R.E. [6483], Brazil K001205499
    Schultes, R.E. [6482], Brazil K001205500
    Schultes, R. [6492], Brazil K001205501
    Evans, R. [6496], Brazil K001205502
    Schultes, R. [6481], Brazil K001205503
    Schultes, R.E. [6497], Brazil K001205504
    Schultes, R.E. [10290], Brazil K001205505
    Glaziou [8921], Brazil K001205506
    Schultes, R.E. [10276], Brazil K001205507
    Schultes, R.E. [8083/a], Brazil K001205508
    Schultes, R.E. [8082], Brazil K001205509
    Prance, G.T. [2357], Brazil K001205510
    Prance, G.T. [8037], Brazil K001205511
    Schultes, R.E. [8083], Brazil K001205512
    Glaziou [4911], Brazil K001205513
    Schultes, R.E. [6494], Brazil K001205514
    Schultes, R. [10264], Brazil K001205515
    Schultes, R.E. [6113], Colombia K001205516
    Schultes, R.E. [10265], Brazil K001205517
    Krukoff, B.A. [1627], Brazil K001205518
    Krukoff, B.A. [s.n.], Brazil K001205519
    Krukoff, B.A. [s.n.], Brazil K001205520
    Krukoff, B.A. [5], Brazil K001205521
    Archer, W.A. [8085], Brazil K001205522
    Fróes, R.L. [20520], Brazil K001205523
    Fróes, R.L. [20520], Brazil K001205524
    Fróes, R.L. [20617], Brazil K001205525
    Fróes, R.L. [20617], Brazil K001205526
    Fróes, R.L. [20618], Brazil K001205527
    Fróes, R.L. [20616], Brazil K001205528
    Ule, E. [9550], Brazil K001205529
    Krukoff, B.A. [5468], Brazil K001205530
    Krukoff, B.A. [5468], Brazil K001205531
    Thomas, D.W. [3091], Cameroon K000008268
    Prance, G.T. [22958], Brazil K001205621

    First published in Linnaea 34: 204 (1865)

    Accepted in:

    • [2] Mostaph, M.K. & Uddin, S.B. (2013) Dictionary of plant names of Bangladesh , Vasc. Pl.: 1-434. Janokalyan Prokashani, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
    • [4] Garcia-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) (2012) Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies) , ed. 2: 1-351. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
    • [6] (2011) Bothalia 41: 41-82
    • [7] (2010) Taxonomania. Revue de Taxonomie et de Nomenclature Botaniques 30: 1-307
    • [8] (2009) Englera 29-1: 1-438
    • [9] (2009) Scripta Botanica Belgica 41: 1-517
    • [11] Nelson Sutherland, C.H. (2008) Catálogo de las plantes vasculares de Honduras. Espermatofitas . SERNA/Guaymuras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
    • [12] (2007) Flora of Thailand 8(2): 305-592. The Forest Herbarium, National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Bangkok.
    • [13] Balakrishnan, N.P. & Chakrabarty, T. (2007) The family Euphorbiaceae in India. A synopsis of its profile, taxonomy and bibliography . Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun.
    • [15] Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (eds.) (2006) Flore Analytique du Bénin . Backhuys Publishers.
    • [17] Catarino, L., Sampaio Martins, E., Pinto-Basto, M.F. & Diniz, M.A. (2006) Plantas Vasculares e Briófitos da Guiné-Bissau . Instituto de investigação científica tropical, Instituto Português de apoio ao desenvolvimento.
    • [20] (2005) Harvard Papers in Botany 10: 95-116
    • [21] (2004) Blumea 49: 425-440
    • [22] Dy Phon, P. (2000) Dictionnaire des plantes utilisées au Cambodge . Chez l'auteur, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
    • [24] Govaerts, R., Frodin, D.G. & Radcliffe-Smith, A. (2000) World Checklist and Bibliography of Euphorbiaceae (and Pandaceae) 1-4: 1-1622. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [27] Brunel, J.F., Hiepo, P. & Scholz, H. (eds.) (1984) Flore Analytique du Togo Phanérogames: 1-751. GTZ, Eschborn.
    • [29] Smith, A.C. (1981) Flora Vitiensis Nova. A new flora for Fiji (Spermatophytes only) 2: 1-810. Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden, Lawai.

    Literature

    • [1] (2016) Phytotaxa 250: 1-431
    • [3] Mostaph, M.K. & Uddin, S.B. (2013) Dictionary of plant names of Bangladesh , Vasc. Pl.: 1-434. Janokalyan Prokashani, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
    • [5] Garcia-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) (2012) Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies) , ed. 2: 1-351. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
    • [10] (2008) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 32: 403-500
    • [14] Balakrishnan, N.P. & Chakrabarty, T. (2007) The family Euphorbiaceae in India. A synopsis of its profile, taxonomy and bibliography . Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun.
    • [16] Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (eds.) (2006) Flore Analytique du Bénin . Backhuys Publishers.
    • [18] Catarino, L., Sampaio Martins, E., Pinto-Basto, M.F. & Diniz, M.A. (2006) Plantas Vasculares e Briófitos da Guiné-Bissau . Instituto de investigação científica tropical, Instituto Português de apoio ao desenvolvimento.
    • [19] International Rubber Research and Development Board (IRRDB) (2006). Portrait of the global rubber industry. IRRDB, Kuala Lumpur.
    • [23] Ghani, M.N.A. & Wessel, M. (2000). Hevea brasiliensis (Willd. ex Juss.) Müll.Arg. In: Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 18: Plants Producing Exudates, ed. E. Boer & A. B. Ella, pp. 73-82. Backhuys Publisher, Leiden, The Netherlands
    • [25] Schultes, R. E. (1990). A brief taxonomic view of the genus. Malaysian Rubber Research and Development Board Monograph no.14.
    • [26] Webster, C.C. & Baulkwill, W.J. ed. 1989. Rubber. Longman Scientific & Technical, Harlow, U.K.
    • [28] Brunel, J.F., Hiepo, P. & Scholz, H. (eds.) (1984) Flore Analytique du Togo Phanérogames: 1-751. GTZ, Eschborn.
    • [30] Boulvert, Y. (1977) Catalogue de la Flore de Centrafrique 1: 1-114. ORSTOM, Bangui.
    • [31] J. H. Holland, The Useful Plants of Nigeria, Kew Bulletin, Additional Series IX, 4: 585
    • [32] —F.T.A. 6, 1: 743

    Sources

    Flora Zambesiaca
    [A] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    International Plant Names Index
    The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
    [B] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [C] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [D]

    Kew Library Art and Archives
    [E] Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    Neotropikey
    Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.
    [F] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [G] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [H] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0