The rubber plant ( Ficus elastica) is a familiar sight in most urban homes. It is most suitable for indoor cultivation but if planted outside, it grows into a tall tree. All ficuses love a humid atmosphere and moderate sunlight. They grow best in rich soil with some sand in it. Although they can be potted at any time of the year (in India), the monsoon is the safest time. Ficus elastica is a moraceous plant belonging to the Moraceae, a mostly tropical and sub-tropical family of trees and shrubs, in- cluding fig, mulberry, breadfruit, and hop, many of which have latex in the stems and heads enclosed in a fleshy receptacle. The one that i have is ficus elastica decora tricolour. As you can see in the photo, the leaves are green and cream whereas the new leaves are sheathed in pink. They look most attractive during this season. Recently, I transplanted one and also trimmed a branch or two. I didn't realise the latex would spoil my housecoat (early morning gardening convenient wear) and also leave chewing-gummy goo on my hands--i find gloves constrictive. Later i looked up a book on Nature and this is what i got in a page titled "Toxic Deterrents". If an animal bites into a rubber plant it gets an unpleasant sur- prise. Instead of oozing sap, the tree produces latex-a milky fluid that is packed with poisons, giving it a fiery taste. Like real milk, latex contains billions of microscopic droplets that are suspended in a runny flluid. When latex is exposed to the air, the fluid part evaporates, but the droplets stay behind, creating sticky blobs that clog up an animal's mouth-parts, feathers, and fur.
Glory be to God for dappled things- For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings; Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim. All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him. Gerard Manley Hopkins
The first flowering shrub I planted on our land
Every flower is a soul blooming in Nature.-Gerard De Nerval
Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself? -Henry David Thoreau