Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

Hevea brasiliensis (Willd. ex A. Juss.)

Kingdom:Plantae
Phylum/Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Eudicots
Order:Malpighiales
Family:Euphorbiaceae
Genus:Hevea
Species:H. brasiliensis
Common Names:Rubber Tree, Para Rubber, Getah
Status:Naturalised

Description

Medium-sized tree (<20 m) from South America, with an oblong or conical-shaped crown, a straight trunk and rough, greyish bark. All parts of the tree exude copious white latex when cut.

It has spirally-arranged trifoliate compound leaves with boat-shaped leaflets attached to a long stalk. Young leaves are purple-bronze while old leaves are vivid orange brown or red.

The pale-yellow flowers are small and fragrant, with male and female flowers found on the same inflorescence (panicle). Male flowers are slightly greenish, small and numerous while female flowers are few, larger, and occupy the terminal end of the panicle.

It produces large, woody capsular fruits with three lobes. Each lobe contains one hard, shiny seed.

Read more about the Malpighiales order.
Read more about the Euphorbiaceae family.

Distribution

Native to Brazil

Localities

Bukit Batok Nature Park, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Kent Ridge, Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin, Southern Ridges, St John's Island

General Biology

This deciduous tree changes its leaves during short spells of dry weather, usually twice in a year, which happens early in the year and also in August or September.

Life Cycle

The seeds are ejected from the capsules via explosion of the capsule, which produces a gunshot-like sound. This disperses the seeds away from the parent tree.

Human Uses

The latex from the Rubber Tree is the main source of commercial natural rubber. The first plant was successfully planted in Singapore Botanic Gardens in 1877, using seedlings from the Kew Gardens, England. Rubber plantations became large scale and turned into a major part of the economy in Singapore beginning 1903 until World War II, covering 40% of Singapore's land area at one point in 1935.

Rubberwood is also harvested to make furniture, boards and packing boxes.

References

Chong, K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & R. T. Corlett, 2009. A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 273 pp.

Corlett, R. T., 2011. Rubber. P. 434-435. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors), Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development, Editions Didier Millet, Singapore, 552 pp.

Corner, E.J.H., 1988. Wayside Trees of Malaya. Third Edition. Volumes 1-2. Malayan Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. 861 pp.

Keng, H., 1990. The Concise Flora of Singapore: Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Singapore University Press, Singapore. 222 pp.

National Parks Board, 2009. Trees of Our Garden City (2nd edition). National Parks Board, Singapore. 384 pp.

Rao, A. N. & Y. C. Wee, 1989. Singapore Trees. Singapore Institute of Biology, Singapore. 357 pp.

Related Images

  • Hevea brasiliensis
    Wee Yeow Chin

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    Nov 1985
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    Wee Yeow Chin

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    Jun 2003
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    Wee Yeow Chin

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    Mar 2006
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    Wee Yeow Chin

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    Jun 1987
  • Hevea brasiliensis
    Wee Yeow Chin

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    Oct 2003
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    Mar 1981
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Related Documents

  • Propagation of Hevea from Stake.
    Burkill, I. H.

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    (12 Aug 1918)
  • The Gardens' Hevea tree No. 1844, - H. confusa, Hemsl.
    Burkill, I. H.

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    (04 Jul 1919)

    Planted in the exact centre of a small rectangular bit of ground close to the office in the Economic Garden stood a rather small rubber tree which bore the number 1844. Its dark grey bark attracted the attention to it ; and when it was more closely examined the foliage was seen to differ from that of the neighbouring trees of Hevea brasiliensis. Its history was unrecorded: but by the way in which it stood, it suggested that it came by no accident, but was set in its position as something apart from the other rubber trees.  When it flowered in 1917 it was seen that the flowers removed it far from H. brasiliensis.  The seeds also were found small, though not outside the extraordinarily wide limits in which H. brasiliensis varies: when it was tapped the latex was found to be yellow, meagre in amount and to remain tacky, with little elasticity. It appeared to be an undesirable type; but it was determined not to destroy it without enquiry. Flowering specimens were therefore dried and sent to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where Sir David Prain has been so good as to have it determined as Hevea confusa, Hemsl. The tree has now been destroyed on account of its proximity to the seed bearing trees, lest it should bring about cross-pollination; but seedling have been raised in order that if any purpose is found for it, the species may be available.

  • Notes on Hevea confusa, Hemsl.
    Chipp, T. F.

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    (31 Jan 1920)
  • Coconut bud rot
    Chipp, T. F.

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    (31 Jan 1920)
  • The fungus flora of Hevea brasiliensis
    Chipp, T. F.

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    (31 Jan 1920)

    A little while ago an enquiry was received asking what were the fungus diseases of Hevea brasiliensis. On consulting the literature on this subject it was ascertained that there was no recent complete enumeration of the disease that have been found to attack this tree in Malaya. Such lists have been prepared for other countries, as for instance by Petch for the Hevea in Ceylon, but the diseases are not necessarily the same in different countries and it seemed desirable therefore to have a list for Malaya. At the same time the present paper goes further than recording the diseases that have actually been proved and enumerates all fungi, both those that are known to be parasitic and those that are so far regarded as saprophytic, which have been found on Hevea locally.

  • Two hybrids trees of Hevea brasiliensis X H. confusa
    Burkill, I. H.

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    (07 Nov 1924)
  • The Singapore Botanic Gardens and Rubber in Malaya.
    Wycherley, P. R.

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    (05 Dec 1959)

    Natural Rubber production in Malaya and other tropical Asian countries depends upon the cultivation of Hevea brasiliensis. This tree was introduced into the east and its exploitation developed through the agency of various botanical institutions and, as will be shown below, the part played by staff of the Singapore Botanic Gardens has proved exceptionally important. The changing fortunes of the rubber producing industry have reflected the trends of world economic history during the first half of the twentieth century.  Although during times of trade depression the plantation industry has done little more than provide a survival existence for its many employees, on balance natural rubber production has made one of the greatest contributions to prosperity in Malaya. This has been achieved in the first place by the attraction of capital and latterly because the inductry has become the largest single source of employment and revenue in the Federation of Malaya. At present rubber plantation employees number over a quarter of million and it is estimated that nearly 400,000 smallholders are supported wholly or partly by rubber cultivation. Direct taxation of rubber exports has provided about 15 per cent of the total Federal revenue during the last five years.  This figure was swelled by taxes on company profits and by other less direct means. This enterprise, which has given a livelihood to a large section of the population representative of all races in Malaya and provided wealth for the country's development, owes its origin mainly to the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

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