Location: Sunflower and Plant Biology ResearchTitle: Ficus elastica-The Indian rubber tree-an underutilized promising multi-use species) Author
Submitted to: Biomass and Bioenergy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/4/2011
Publication Date: 3/30/2011
Publication URL: http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/catalog/49707
Citation: Augustus, G.D.P.S., Seiler, G.J. 2011. Ficus elastica-The Indian rubber tree-an underutilized promising multi-use species. Biomass and Bioenergy. 35:3247-3250. Interpretive Summary: Growing plants as a renewable energy source is of increasing of interest. Cultivation of plants which already produce hydrocarbon–like compounds is attractive because the conversion of this type of plant extract to energy is efficient, since the material is already in a reduced form. The Indian or Assam tree which has a white milky latex that is a source of natural rubber was analyzed for its phytochemicals as an intermediate energy source. It grows profusely without any agronomic management and survives well under extreme environmental conditions, such as high temperature and limited water supply and is adaptable for annual pollarding. It has the potential as an alternative multiuse species because of its hydrocarbon production (2.0 %) and high calorific value (28.7 MJ/kg). It has a gross heat value equivalent to some fossil fuels such as lignite and anthracite coal. Its low ash content has a positive effect on the high gross calorific value. The protein content of 24.5% and oil yield of 6.2% increases the potential utility of this species as a protein and hydrocarbon source. This species also contains high levels of phenolic compounds which may be related to disease resistance to some pathogens. Indian rubber tree has several chemical constituents, other than rubber, which have potential uses and warrants further study.
Technical Abstract: Ficus elastica known as the Indian rubber tree has a white, milky latex that is a source of natural rubber was analyzed for its phytochemicals as an intermediate energy source. The tree produces a high quantity of protein and oil (24.5 and 6.1% respectively). The polyphenol content was 4.2%, and hydrocarbon content was 2%. The gross calorific value of the plant sample was 28.7 MJ/kg, much higher than that of methanol (22.4 MJ/kg), but comparable to anthracite coal (29.7 MJ/kg). The gross calorific value of the oil fraction was 32.8 MJ/kg. This species also contains high levels of ortho-dihydroxy phenols which may be related to disease resistance to some pathogens. It also possesses compounds with antimicrobial activity and a range of pharmacological activities. Ficus elastica has several chemical constituents, other than rubber, which have potential uses and warrant further study.