During Christopher Columbus' second visit to South America, he saw the natives there playing with bouncing balls. These balls were made from gum taken from Hevea trees. Columbus took some of the balls home to Spain and gifted one to Queen Isabella. This was in 1496.
                    For more than three hundred years afterwards, scientists in Europe and America experimented with Hevea gum. The gum was given the name 'rubber' when the scientist Joseph Priestley found that it could rub out pencil marks.
                    A Scotsman, Charles Mackintosh began making good raincoats by putting a layer of rubber between two layers of cloth. His raincoat were called Mackintoshes. But people in general did not much care for rubber. They found that it was too sticky in hot weather and too brittle in cold weather.
                    In 1839, An American, Charles Goodyear found that when sulphur was added to rubber and the mixture was heated, The rubber became much easier to use and it did not become sticky or brittle. Goodyear's method of treating rubber is called Vulcanization'.
                    In 1876, the English brought rubber seeds from South America and planted them in their own country. But as rubber cannot grow in cold countries they sent the seedlings to Sri Lanka which was then a British colony. From Sri Lanka some seedlings were sent to Singapore and elsewhere. Soon rubber began to be grown in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Burma and other parts of Asia.
                    A rubber sapling takes 5-7 yrs to grow into a mature tree. When it is old enough, shallow, curved cuts are made in the bark and a milky juice called Latex oozes from it. This sticky juice is collected in vessels attached to the tree. It is then taken away in drums to a factory and made into rubber sheets. Further processing and vulcanizing is necessary before this rubber can be used for making such items as tyres etc.
                    In India, rubber grows in abundance in Kerela.

Hevea Gum Being Collected


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