Rubber fig (Ficus elastica)

Rubber fig (Ficus elastica) is a species of fig in the family Moraceae, native to northeast India, the eastern Himalayas, and south down through Malaysia and southern Indonesia. It is also known as rubber bush, rubber plant, or Indian rubber bush. It is widely used as a houseplant for it glossy foliage and overall appearance.

Rubber fig is a hardy, vigorous, evergreen plant which can grow 30-50 m tall with a trunk diameter of 2 m. The trunk develops aerial and buttering roots to anchor it in the soil and help support the plant. Rubber fig is easy to grow and care for. It has broad, glossy, dark green leaves, 10- 35 cm long, and 5-15 cm wide. Young leaves appear pinkish, and turn glossy green as they age. The leaf size is largest on young plant, up to 45 cm long, and smaller, 10 cm long, on mature tree. Rubber fig produces inedible oval-shaped figs, that are green turning yellow-green, 1 cm in diameter, containing viable seed.

Rubber fig grows well in bright light but not hot temperatures, in fertile, well-drained soil. It can tolerate drought and welcomes humidity and thrives in wet, tropical climates. Water regularly but avoid over watering. Over- and under-watering will cause the leaves to yellow and fall off. Brown, dead spots on leaves are signs that the plant is receiving too much light. Rubber fig can grow more than 3 m tall indoors, so pruning is advisable to keep it in acceptable and attractive form. All parts of the plant produce white sticky sap that is moderately toxic. Ingestion may cause severe discomfort; contact with the sap may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction. Keep the plant away from small children and pets.

Propagation is by cuttings or air layering. Mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids and scales are pests that are most likely the invaders of the rubber fig.

Rubber fig (Ficus elastica)Rubber fig (Ficus elastica)
Author: Alvesgaspar (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

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