Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rubber tree

Someday I need to do a rubber tree count to see actually how many trees are on the Bosque Santa Lucia property. There are certainly dozens of older ones on the trails I use for tours. I always make it a point to tap a tree to show visitors the latex, which is the origin of what we call rubber. In the image you can see the latex oozing from a cut I made with a fast whack of a machete. When Sr. Teixeira or one of his sons tap a tree, they use a professional tapping knife, which I'll show in another image. We don't commercialize rubber at the Bosque, so my cuts are only demonstrative. In the "real world", there are two cuts in a fish bone design with a small cup-like container fastened to the tree for collecting the dripping latex. In days gone by, the latex would allowed to coagulate in this container, or it would be smoked over a fire before shippment to market. Today most latex is kept in liquid form by adding ammonia. This is the prime rubber used for making surgical gloves and condoms, among other products.

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