Central American rubber


Central American rubber, or Mexican rubber-tree, is native to Mexico, Central America, Colombia, and Ecuador. It reaches a height of 70 feet, with a trunk 3 feet in diameter. The bark exudes white latex when cut. The leaves are up to 18 inches long and are hairy on both sides. Male and female flowers appear on the same tree but in separate inflorescences. Fruits are grouped in a disk about 2 inches in diameter, initially green, later orange, and finally red. It flowers from autumn to spring and the fruits ripen during spring and summer. This species was an important source of latex for the production of natural rubber, but was substituted by the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis. The generic name honors the Spanish botanist Juan Diego del Castillo López (1744-1793). The species name derives from the use of its latex for rubber production.

The photographed tree is southwest of the Chemical Engineering Building. There are many trees in the forest remnants located south of this building, west of the Business Administration Building, west of the Biology Building, and around the Research and Development Center. All these trees descend from seeds sent by José de Diego to the Federal Agricultural Experiment Station in 1907 and their subsequent dispersal by birds.

Castilla elastica (Moraceae)