Brief History of Natural Latex
Columbus can be credited with the discovery of Natural Latex,
or Rubber, When he returned to the New World for a second time,
he noted natives of Haiti playing with a ball made from the gum
of a tree. This bouncing ball made from the gum of a tree called
"e;CAW-UCHU"e; or, "e;Weeping Wood"e;, was also used
by ancient Mayans. They threw it through a "e;hoop"e; made
of rubber. It was the earliest form of a game which later became
known as basketball.
natives that played with "e;Bouncing Balls"e; also used
"e;CAW-UCHC"e; to waterproof clothing and "e;rubberize"e;
1770, Joseph Priestly, an English chemist, "e;erased"e;
pencil marks with coagulated rubber. Since it "e;rubbed off"e;
pencil marks. He gave it the name "e;Rubber"e;.
the late nineteenth century, a Scotsman patented a garment which
contained rubber and fabric. The raincoat was born.
the same period a British coachman cut rubber into "e;strips"e;
and created the rubber band.
most significant discovery during that period was that of Charles
Goodyear. He introduced Sulphur "e;Dust"e; into rubber and
discovered Vulcanization. Vulcanized Rubber gives natural latex
resistance to temperature extremes. This gave birth to our vast
tire industry. In fact, in 1846, the tires of Queen Victoria's
coach were made from Rubber.
rubber is available from a number of trees (e.g. the CASTILLOA
ELASTICA in Mexico, and a climbing bush in Africa called LANDOPHILLIA),
none is as productive as the HEVEA BRASILIENSIS, from Brazil,
as far as ease of tapping and intensity of yield.
of this tree were taken from the Amazon and transplanted to England.
From there, they made their way to Ceylon and Singapore, where
large farms were instituted. Some of the original transplants
are still producing today.
is also significant to note that during this period the process
to "e;tapping"e; latex was developed. It was found that
"e;tapping"e; the Hevea Brasiliensis improved the yield
of the trees.
rubber trees grow to a height of 50 feet. They require climates
that have annual rainfall of about 90 inches and temperatures
of about 80 degrees F.
researchers at the Malaysian Rubber Institute are trying to develop
trees with "e;fatter"e; stumps to produce more latex.
production of more latex by creating more productive trees is
becoming necessary as the needs of the medical profession expand.
efforts are continuing to counteract the ephemeral nature of Latex
by growing seedlings in nurseries and then later transplanting
them in the field.
Unendangered, Hevea Brasiliensis will continue to produce the
latex we need through these scientific tree farming techniques.