Rubber is a material which can stretch and shrink. It is a polymer. It can be produced from natural sources (eg. natural rubber) or can be synthesised on a industrial scale. Many things are made from rubber, like gloves, tires, plugs, and masks. A few things can be made only from rubber.

Sometimes the word means only natural rubber (latex rubber). Natural rubber is made from the white sap of some trees such as the Hevea brasiliensis (Euphorbiaceae). Other elastomers, called synthetic rubbers, are made by chemical processes.


Hevea brasiliensis is the tree that most rubber comes from. Other plants that have the special sap (called latex) are figs ( Ficus elastica), Castilla (Panama rubber tree), euphorbias, lettuce, the common dandelion, Taraxacum kok-saghyz (Russian dandelion), Scorzonera tau-saghyz, and Guayule.

In the 1800s, most sap to make rubber came from South America. In 1876 Henry Wickham got seeds from rubber trees in Brazil, and took them to Kew Gardens, England, and sent them to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Indonesia, Singapore and British Malaya. Later, Malaya (now Malaysia) made the most rubber. People tried to grow rubber in India, in 1873 at the Botanical Gardens, Kolkata. The first Hevea farms in India were made at Thattekadu in Kerala in 1902. The Congo Free State in Africa also grew a lot trees for rubber at the start of the 20th century, and most of the people who worked on those farms were forced labor. Liberia and Nigeria also started growing trees to make rubber.

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