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Family Moraceae
Indian rubber fig
Ficus elastica Roxb.

Yin du rong

Scientific names   Common names  
Ficus elastica Roxb. Balete (Tag.)  
Ficus decora Hort. Indian rubber tree (Engl.)  
Urostigma elasticum Miq. Indian rubber fig (Engl.)  
  Rubber tree
  Rubber plant  
  Assam rubber (Engl.)  
Worldwide there are over 800 species of the genus Ficus (Latin: fig) and of the more than 10 species found in the Philippines, Balete is a shared common name for six of them: (1) Ficus benjamina, salisi (2) Ficus elastica, Indian rubber tree (3) Ficus indica, baleteng-baging (4) Ficus payapa, payapa (5) Ficus retusa, marabutan, and (6) Ficus stipulosa, botgo.

Other vernacular names
ASSAMESE: Athabor, Attah.
BURMESE: Ganoi, Kanoi, Nyaung kyetpaung.
CHINESE: Yin du rong.
CROATIAN: Gumijevac, Fikus.
DANISH: Gummifigen.
FRENCH: Arbre á caoutchouc, Caoutchouc.
GERMAN: Gummibaum.
HINDI: Attaabor, Bargad, Bor.
JAPANESE: Indo gomu no ki.
KANNADA: Rabra chovad.
KOREAN: In do go mu na mu.
SERBIAN: Gumijevac, Tropska smokva, Fikus, Fikus zmajevac.
SPANISH: Árbol del caucho, Gomero, Higuera cauchera, Higuera de la India (Cuba), Planta del caucho.
TAMIL: Cimaiyal.
THAI: Yang india.
VIETNAMESE: Ða búp đỏ.

Indian rubber tree is a glabrous spreading tree, up to 10 meters high, normally starting as an epiphyte, sending down numerous adventitious roots from the trunk and larger branches. Leaves are very leathery, smooth and shining, elliptic-oblong, 15 to 25 centimeters long, the tip with a tapering point and entire margin. Stipules are deciduous, membranaceous, and usually red, often as long as the leaves. Receptacles are axillary, usually in pairs, stalkless, smooth, greenish-yellow, oblong-ovoid, about 1 centimeter long.

- Introduced, but now pantropic in cultivation.
- Popularly planted in parks and as a roadside tree.

- Cultivated as a potted plant by florists.

- The latex contains caoutchouc, 10-30%; resin, 1.58%; a bitter substance; albuminoid; and magnesium salts. Wax contains cerotic acid.
- Leaves yielded four compounds: emodin, sucrose, morin and rutrin. (6)
- Leaves yielded two new compounds, ficuselastic acid and (1'S,6'R)-8-O-β-D- glucopyranosyl abscisate sodium, along with 12 known compounds: feroxidin, quercitrin, kaempferin, myricitrin, syringin, citroside B, corchoionoside C, (6S,9R)- roseoside, oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, benzyl O-β-D-glucopyranoside, icariside F2. (11)

Astringent, vulnerary, styptic.

Parts utilized
Rootlets and bark.

- In Java, the very young leaf-tips, before the leaves expand, are eaten as salad.
- Little known in the Philippines as a medicinal plant, except for a decoction of aerial rootlets used as vulnerary.
- Skin eruptions and dermatitis: Boil one cup of chopped bark in 1/2 gallon of water for 10 mins; use decoction to wash involved areas, twice daily.
- Decoction of aerial rootlets used for wounds, cuts and sores.
- Bark is astringent and used as styptics for wounds.
- In Panama, latex used for parasitic worms (trichuris trichura).
• In northern Cameroon, used as fertility enhancement.
- Rubber: Tree is a source of rubber.
Plant that Detoxify the Air
- Of the ficus plants tested, the rubber plant is considered the best for removing chemical toxins from the indoor environment, especially formaldehyde.

Antiinflammatory: Study showed marked inhibition of experimentally induced inflammation, similar to those achieved with indomethacin, an effect attributed to the presence of flavonoids. (2)
Hypoallergenicity: (1) Ficus elastica has been suggested as a possible source of natural rubber latex without the allergenicity of latex protein from Hevea basiliensis. (2) Prelim studies showed that natural rubber from Ficus elastica do not cause allergic reactions in hypersenstivie humans

Antimicrobial / Constituents: Study isolated four known compounds from the leaves of F elastica – emodin, sucrose, morin and rutrin. Results showed antimicrobial activity against B cereus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. No Antifungal activity was observed. (6)
Anthelmintic / Latex: Study of F. religinosia, F. elastica and F. bengalensis showed the three plants possess anthelmintic activity against Indian earthworm Pheretima posthuma. Results showed F. religinosa showed more activity than the other two. (7)
Anthelmintic / Leaves: Study evaluated the anthelmintic activity of methanol and ethanol extract of leaves against Indian earthworm Pheritima posthuma. Metronidazole was the reference drug. (9)
Antitumor / Antioxidant: Methanolic extract of leaves and branches showed DPPH scavenging activity. Activity was attributed possibly to its rich content of polyphenolic compounds and flavonoids. A petroleum ether fraction and dichlormethane fraction showed activity against liver and breast human tumor cell line. (10)
Constituents / Antioxidant: Leaves yielded two new compounds, ficuselastic acid and (1'S,6'R)-8-O-β-D- glucopyranosyl abscisate sodium, along with 12 known compounds. Compounds 1 and 2 showed significant antioxidant activity, while 4 and 5 showed meaningful reducing capacity. Three flavonoids, 3-5, showed potent antioxidant activity. (11)
Ficusamide and Elastocide / Cytotoxicity / Antibacterial: Bark of aerial roots yielded three compounds, ficusamide, ficusoside, and elasticoside, together with nine known compounds, including four triterpenes, three steroids, and two alipathic linear alcohols. Ficusamide showed cytotoxicity against human cancer cell lines and strong activity against Staph saprophyticus. Elastocide showed potent activity against Enterococcus faecalis. (12)
Anti-Inflammatory / Roots: Study evaluated an aqueous extract of Ficus elastica for anti-inflammatory effect in a carrageenan-induced edema and adjuvant-induced arthritis models in rat. Results showed orally administered extract significantly inhibited experimentally induced inflammation in the two models. Effect was similar to indomethacin. The activity was attributed to the presence of a pigment of the flavonoid class. (14)

Folklore advise against having it as a decorative bonzai inside the house as it is believed to invite ghosts.


Last Update November 2014

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
IMAGE SOURCE: Balete tree from the forest of the Philippines. / File:Elephantopus scaber in Narshapur forest, AP W IMG 0835.jpg / Scan of picture from "The Forests of the Philippines, Part II," published in 1911. / Harry Nichols Whitford / 1911 / Public Domain / Wikipedia

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Rubber Plants (Ficus elastica) / Plants that Detoxify the Air
The anti-inflammatory effect of a crude aqueous extract of the root bark of Ficus elastica in the rat / Sackeyfio AC Lugeleka OM: / ARCH INT PHARMACODYN THER 1986 May; 281(1):169-76
The anti-inflammatory effect of a crude aqueous extract of the root bark of "Ficus elastica" in the rat / Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther. 1986 May;281(1):169-76
Occupational Latex Allergy: The End of the Innocence / Holzman, Robert S. MD; Katz, Jonathan D. MD
Hypoallergenic natural rubber products from parthenum argentatum (gray) and other non-hevea brasiliensis species / FreePatentOnLine

Investigation on the Chemical Constituents of the Leaves of Ficus elastica Roxb. and Their Antimicrobial Activity / Hassan Abdalla Almahy et al / Pertanika J. Sci. & Technol. 11(1): 57 - 63 (2003)
Sorting Ficus names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
INVESTIGATION OF IN VITRO ANTHELMINTIC ACTIVITY OF FICUS ELASTICA LEAVES / Ramchandra Gupta / Journal of drug discovery and therapeutics, Vol 1, No 5, 2013.
Antitumor and Antioxidant Activity of Ficus elastica Roxb. and Ficus bengalensis Linn. Family Moraceae / S S El-Hawary, G M Wassel, B S El-Menshawi, N A Ibrahim, K Mahmoud and M M Ayoub / World Applied Sciences Journal, 19(11):1532-1539, 2012.
Chemical Constituents of the Ficus elastica Leaves and Their Antioxidant Activities / Phan Van Kiem et al / Bull. Korean Chem. Soc. 2012, Vol. 33, No. 10 3461 / http://dx.doi.org/10.5012/bkcs.2012.33.10.3461
Ceramide, cerebroside and triterpenoid saponin from the bark of aerial roots of Ficus elastica (Moraceae) / E.J.T. Mbosso et al. / Phytochemistry 83 (2012) 95–103
Sorting Ficus names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
The anti-inflammatory effect of a crude aqueous extract of the root bark of "Ficus elastica" in the rat
. / Sackeyfio AC, Lugeleka OM. / Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther. 1986 May;281(1):169-76.

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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