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Production of India rubber is now negligible because of the higher yield and better quality of para rubber. However, India rubber is hypoallergenic to individuals allergic to some proteins contained in Hevea brasiliensis rubber and may become important thanks to this special property.

Latex from the bark of the stem and larger branches of F. elastica contains rubber, which can be used for all applications of natural rubber, such as tyres, rubber components for cars and machines and consumer products such as footwear, sport goods, toys and gloves. The fibrous bark has been used for the manufacture of clothes and ropes. The wood is of poor quality and occasionally applied for boards, posts, boats and fuel. The latex has a specific gravity of 0.96-1.00 and contains 30-40% of rubber with relatively large rubber particles compared with other latexes. The resin content of the latex varies widely with estimates ranging from 3% to 25%.
Ecology and planting
F. elastica occurs naturally in areas with temperatures of 8 - 33°C and annual precipitation of 1,750 - 3,750 mm without a marked dry season. In a nursery, seedlings are pricked out and placed in trays under shade and transferred to beds when they are several cm tall at spacing of 25 - 40 cm. Once they are well established the shade is gradually removed and eventually the seedlings are in full sunlight. The seedlings can be planted out in the field when they are 35 - 40 cm tall, which is only after about one year, as the initial growth is slow. Parent trees with the highest yield are selected for vegetative propagation, which is important as there is a large individual difference in latex yield. The recommendations for spacing in F. elastica plantations varied widely from 2 to 12 m apart.
Mycorrhiza & Bio-fertilizers
Positive effects of mycorrhiza on the growth of Ficus was proved in pot and field experiments. There is an expected increase in survival after planting and 15% increase in growth and biomass production. Treated plants should show also higher resistance to soil borne diseases and less susceptibility to drought. Application of mycorrhizal inocula may be done at propagation stage in the nursery or inoculum may be applied together with biofertilizer when outplanting from nursery in the field.
Recommended products:
Symbivit: mycorrhizal product
Conavit: slow release fertlizer

Contact: info@plantaglobe.com

More details:
Info sheet India Ficus [PDF]