The Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica Moraceæ)
Some of the biggest Ficus elastica Moraceae trees you will ever have seen can be found in Palma de Mallorca at the beginning of the Passeig des Born, near Plaza de la Reina, or a bit further down the street, in Passeig de Sagrera, near La Llotja. The plant is also called the rubber fig, rubber bush, rubber plant, or Indian rubber bush.
I particularly love the adventitious aerial roots grown by the plant for additional support to carry its heavy branches. Botanists say that this tree is a bush, really.
Over the years I have witnessed these giant plants being pruned and cut back rigorously at regular intervals, probably as a precaution against stormy weather. The tree has a tendency to break apart in strong winds.
The Ficus elastica is an evergreen tree with a height of 6 – 10 m. The thick trunk is short and at times very branched from a very small height. It has a wide crown and the external branches are slightly hanging.
The alternate leaves have a petiole reaching up to 5 cm in length. The leaves measure 12 – 30 cm long and are elyptical, coriaceous, shiny bright green on the upper side and paler on the lower side, although there are other varieties with other shades. The venation is very fine and the margin is smooth. Before opening, the leaves are wrapped in a long, reddish or pinkish stipule. The sessile fruits are spherical, 1 cm or more in diameter, with a smooth, greenish, pitted surface.