Rubber Plant Vs Rubber Tree

If you’re interested in adding a new green friend to your home, you might be wondering what the difference is between a rubber plant and a rubber tree. While both plants share some similarities, they also have some distinct differences that may affect your decision on which one to bring into your space.

First of all, it’s important to clarify that the terms ‘rubber plant’ and ‘rubber tree’ are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two different species.

The rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is native to India and Malaysia, while the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) is native to South America. Despite their differing origins, both plants are known for their large, shiny leaves and easy-going nature when it comes to care.

In this article, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between these two popular indoor plants so you can decide which one is right for you.

Origins And Native Environments

Rubber plants and rubber trees are two different species of plants.

The rubber plant, also known as Ficus elastica, is native to India and Indonesia. It was first introduced to Europe in the 19th century as an ornamental plant due to its large, glossy leaves.

On the other hand, the rubber tree, or Hevea brasiliensis, is native to South America’s Amazon basin. The rubber tree was discovered by European explorers in the late 1700s.

They observed that indigenous tribes were using latex from the tree for waterproofing and making shoes. This discovery led to the commercial cultivation of rubber trees in Southeast Asia, where they are still grown today for their latex production.

Physical Differences In Appearance

When it comes to physical differences, the rubber plant and rubber tree may look quite similar at first glance. However, upon closer inspection, there are some noticeable distinctions between the two.

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For starters, the rubber plant tends to be smaller in size than the rubber tree. The leaves of the rubber plant are also typically shorter and wider than those of the rubber tree. Additionally, while both plants have glossy green leaves, the color of the rubber plant’s leaves is often lighter and brighter than that of the rubber tree. These subtle differences in appearance may not seem like much, but they can help distinguish between these two similar-looking plants.

  • Subtle Differences in Leaf Shape

  • Rubber plant leaves tend to be shorter and wider

  • Rubber tree leaves are longer and more narrow

  • Both have glossy green leaves

  • Height and Size Differences

  • Rubber trees tend to grow taller than rubber plants

  • Rubber plants are smaller overall

  • Both can be grown indoors or outdoors

  • Trunk Appearance

  • The trunks of mature rubber trees tend to be thicker and more visibly textured

  • The trunks of mature rubber plants are smooth with a shinier texture

  • Both can develop aerial roots over time

As you can see, despite their similarities in name and general appearance, there are distinct physical differences between the rubber plant and rubber tree. Whether it’s through examining leaf shape or overall size, these subtle variations can help one tell them apart.

Understanding these distinctions can not only aid in identification but also add an extra level of appreciation for each unique species.

Differences In Care And Maintenance

Caring for a rubber plant and a rubber tree may seem like the same task at first, but there are distinct differences in their maintenance needs.

While both plants prefer bright, indirect light and well-draining soil, the rubber tree is more tolerant of lower light conditions. This means it can be placed in areas that receive less natural light without compromising its growth.

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However, the rubber plant requires consistent moisture levels in its soil to thrive, while the rubber tree prefers to dry out slightly between waterings.

Another key difference in care is pruning. Rubber trees can grow up to 100 feet tall if left unpruned, making them unsuitable for indoor spaces. Regular pruning of the top growth will help keep them at a manageable height and promote bushier growth.

On the other hand, rubber plants have a more compact growth habit and don’t require as much pruning as their tree counterparts. Dead or yellowing leaves can be removed as needed to keep the plant looking healthy and tidy.

Similarities In Benefits For Indoor Spaces

Both the rubber plant and rubber tree share similarities in benefits for indoor spaces. These two plants are popular choices for homes and offices, not only because of their aesthetic appeal but also because of the advantages they bring to the environment they are placed in.

For starters, both plants are known for their air purification capabilities. They help remove harmful toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene from the air, making it safer to breathe.

Additionally, these plants have been shown to reduce stress levels and boost productivity. This is why they are often found in workspaces where people need a calming influence that can also increase their focus.

Here are some more similarities between the rubber plant and rubber tree:

  • Both have large leaves that absorb sound waves effectively.
  • They require minimal maintenance once established.
  • They are native to Southeast Asia.
  • They can grow up to 10 feet tall indoors.

Overall, whether you choose a rubber plant or rubber tree, you will be investing in an excellent addition to your indoor space. With their air-purifying qualities, low-maintenance nature, and aesthetic appeal, either plant is sure to make a positive impact on your home or office environment.

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Choosing The Right Plant For Your Home

When it comes to choosing the right plant for your home, there are a few things to consider.

First and foremost, think about the amount of light and space you have available. If you have a bright, sunny spot in your home, a rubber tree may be the perfect fit. However, if you have lower light levels or limited space, a rubber plant may be a better choice.

Another important factor to consider is maintenance. Rubber trees require more frequent watering and pruning than rubber plants. If you’re someone who travels often or simply doesn’t want to spend a lot of time caring for your plant, a rubber plant may be the way to go.

Ultimately, the decision between a rubber plant and a rubber tree comes down to your personal preferences and lifestyle.


In conclusion, both the rubber plant and the rubber tree are great options for indoor plants. The choice between the two ultimately depends on personal preference and the specific needs of your home.

For those seeking a smaller and more compact option, the rubber plant may be the way to go. It requires less maintenance and can fit nicely in smaller spaces.

However, if you have a larger area to fill or prefer a taller plant with a more tree-like appearance, then the rubber tree may be better suited for your needs.

Regardless of which plant you choose, both offer numerous benefits such as improving air quality and adding greenery to your home. With proper care and maintenance, they can thrive in indoor environments for years to come.