Also known as the Hevea brasiliensis, the rubber tree requires a hot, moist climate to thrive. Even a single frost can ruin the rubber in a tree.
Because of this, the majority of the world’s rubber trees come from the southern regions of Asia — Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia in particular. However, rubber trees are also common in the rainforests of South America.
In the wild, these trees can reach up to 43 meters (140 feet) tall. Their strong roots and thick leaves make life pretty tough for neighbouring plants.
Large rubber tree farms, also known as plantations, help cultivate the trees to ensure they stay healthy.
When injured, rubber trees release latex or resin. Latex is similar to sap, but it contains high levels of natural rubber. When a plant is injured, this latex can seal the wound and help the tree survive.
Rubber trees can take up to six years to grow until they are producing rubber latex reliably.
Once they reach maturity, they’ll continue to produce for roughly 25 years before they’re harvested for their wood and replaced with younger trees.
When grown on plantations, rubber trees reach a much shorter 25 meters (roughly 82 feet) in height. In most cases this is because they’re regularly tapped to harvest their sap.