India rubber plant, also called India Rubber Tree, (species Ficus elastica), large tree in its native Southeast Asia and in other warm areas but a common indoor pot plant elsewhere. It has large, thick, oblong leaves, up to 30 cm (12 inches) long and figlike fruits in pairs along the branches. The milky sap, or latex, was once an important source of an inferior natural rubber. Young plants available in the florist’s trade are durable and grow well under less-than-ideal indoor conditions. Among the cultivated varieties offered are Decora, with broader and darker green leaves, and a few variegated strains, with marbled gray, cream, and white leaves or green leaves with white or yellow margins.
Ficus elastica is the classic Rubber Tree, Rubber Plant or India Rubber Plant. Native to India and Malaysia, elastica is among the oldest plants used as houseplants worldwide. Elastica leaves and stems and even wood 'bleed' white sticky sap when broken or damaged from which rubber can be made. Some people are allergic to this sap when applied to the skin. Like most ficus, Ficus elastica is a large tree, growing to 40-50 feet tall and even wider on its spreading branches held up by aerial roots which become multiple trunks. Many authors refer to growth habit as "widely sprawling." A very close relative of Ficus benjamina, Ficus elastica tree is invasive and likely a poor choice for your South Florida landscape. It has all of the same negatives as Ficus benjamina, as well as shedding large, coarse leaves daily, choking any and all undergrowth. The sun is unable to penetrate the soil below elastica. Still, elastica is an attractive large tree in wide open spaces.