Milk for Modern Civilizations

- Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis(H.B.K.) Muell.-Arg)


Layer upon layer terrace fields circle upward; one mountain connects with another, peaks over peaks, they look cascaded and boundless. The rubber woods are verdant and luxuriant on the mountains. This is the magnificent scene of the rubber woods, and they look like a beautiful landscape painting from distance.

Rubber fosters the modern civilizations of human beings. It is a dispensable resource, raw material, pillar, and lifeline for modern civilizations of human beings; as well as a close friend of the contemporary mankind. To some extent, we can say that without rubber, many prosperous industries of human beings will be non-existed, such as spaceflight, aviation, navigation, transportation, post, sanitation, military affairs, biological chemistry and computer industries etc. There would be no modern civilization without rubber. 

Rubber has very good special properties, such as elasticity, insulation, wearable character, and flexibility etc. Therefore, it is widely used in industries and our daily lives. For the time being, there are more than 70,000 types of rubber products, and these products come down to every aspect of human life. For example, a heavy truck needs 240 kg of rubber products; a jet plane needs 600 kg of rubber products; a heavy tank needs 800 kg of rubber products; and a 35,000 tonnage warship needs 68 tons of rubber products etc. 

Nowadays, our world needs 6 million tons of natural rubber each year, and the annual rubber output of the world also reach 6 million tons. However, from the time of the discovery of natural rubber by mankind to the time when artificial rubbers came into being, the process is long and hard. 

The great adventurer, Columbus stepped on the South American continent in 1493. There, the Spaniards saw the local Indian children and youths were playing a game. They threw a small ball while singing, and the small ball jumped very high after it fell onto the ground. If they held the ball in hands, they would feel a smoky smell. The Spaniards also saw the local Indians coated some white milks on their clothes and rains can not penetrate such clothes; they also painted such liquids on the feet, and their feet would not get wed even in rainy days. From these, the Spaniards comprehended the elasticity and the waterproof nature of rubber, but they did not know where rubber came from. 

In 1693, a French scientist, Lakangda, saw the small ball again when he was in South America; the insight of a scientist and a military man was different, he investigated into the small ball, and he got to know that the ball was made with the white liquid flowing out of a tree named rubber tree. 

In 1736, the French scientist, Kangdamin , brought back with him detailed materials about rubber trees and published his book, "Traveling Records in Inland South America"; in his book, the scientist described the original place, the method of collecting milk latex, and the use of rubber in detail; and the book attracted the attention of the people at his time. 

In 1763, a Frenchman, Maka, invented a solvent that could soften rubber.
In 1770, a British chemist, Pulister, discovered that rubber could wipe out the handwritings written with pencils. 

In 1823, a British, Mackintosh, coated the liquid of rubber trees on a piece of cloth, and made it into waterproof cloth; he also made the cloth into a waterproof cloak, and that might be the earliest raincoat of the world.

In 1852, a American chemist, Guteye, when doing an experiment, threw the cans that storing rubber and sulfur separately on the oven by accident; rubber and sulfur flew together after being heated and formed a piece of rubber skin, thus, he invented the method of vulcanizing rubber. This accidental deed was an important invention in the rubber manufacturing industry, and it removed a barrier in rubber application, and rubber became an official industrial material ever since. In the meantime, rubber also provided the possibility for many industries relating with rubber to become prosperous. Afterwards, he made the first pair rubber waterproof shoes in this method. 

In 1876, a British, Weckhan, brought back 70,000 pieces of rubber seeds from the tropical rain forests of the Amazon after a near escape, and he sent them to cultivate in the Royal Botanical Garden of Britain; then, he shipped the seedlings to Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Indonesia to plant and achieved success. 

In 1888, a British, Denglu, invented the automobile tyre; the production of automobile began in 1895, and the automobile industry rose up, which aroused demands for rubbers; then, the price of rubber rose up sharply. 

In 1897, the Chief of Singapore Botanical Garden, Huang Dele, invented the method to cut rubber trees successively, and increased the output of rubber to a large extent. From then on, wild rubber trees became an important economic crop that could be planted in large areas. 


In 1904, the Chief of Dehong Autonomous State of Yunnan purchased 8000 rubber seedlings from Singapore, he brought them back and planted them in Mount Phoenix in Yingjiang County of Yunnan province in north latitude 24 degrees. But, unluckily, only one individual rubber plant is left now. 
From 1906-1907, some patriotic overseas Chinese Qionghai, Hainan, and He Shulin introduced 4000 pieces of rubber seeds, and planted them in Hui county and Chan county in Hainan. 
In 1915, a Netherlander, Herton invented the sprout grafting method for rubber trees in Indonesia, and superb rubber clone began and rubber trees were popularized in large amount. 
From 1940-1950, some patriotic overseas Chinese, Qian Fangzhou, Li Zongzhou, Mu Delin, Yao Fumei, Lin Donglan, and Zheng Kaiting established "Xian Hua Company" in Thailand; they overcame innumerable trials and hardships and transported more than 20,000 rubber seedlings back to China. They established "Xian Hua Rubber Garden" in Menghan Town of Xishuangbanna in Yunnan. They overcame unimaginable hardships such as the riots caused by bandits, pestilence, and blockage of traffic and shortage of expenses. The production of rubber gradually began to develop in China.