Gutta-Percha (Eucommia ulmoides)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Gutta-Percha
Eucommia ulmoides
Eucommiaceae

A rubber is obtained from the sap, but not in commercially viable quantities[11, 46, 61]. The leaves contain 3% dry weight of gutta-percha, a non-elastic rubber, used for insulation of electrical wires etc[74]. The gutta-percha is found in all parts of the tree and is extracted by alcohol[61, 174].

The wood is used for making Pattens (a type of shoe with raised soles)[178].

  • Medicinal Use

    Gutta-percha, known as Du Zhong in China, is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs[218]. It is considered to be an excellent tonic for the kidneys and liver, and is thought to act specifically on the lower part of the body[254]. Much interest has been aroused by Du Zhong’s ability to reduce high blood pressure. In a clinical trial involving 119 people, 46% of those treated with the herb showed a significant reduction in blood pressure[254]. However, it seems to have little effect in cases of severe hypertension[254].

    The stem bark is analgesic, anticholesterolemic, aphrodisiac, depurative, diuretic, hepatic, hypotensive, sedative, tonic and vasodilator[11, 46, 147, 176, 178, 218, 279]. Its use lowers blood pressure (the stir-fried bark is stronger than raw and a decoction is stronger than a tincture) and reduces the absorption of cholesterol[176]. It is used in the treatment of impotence, frequent urination, lumbago, weakness of the lower part of the body, aching back and knees, hypertension and threatened abortion[176, 254].

    The flowers and the fruit are astringent[218].

  • Edible Use

    Young leaves[178]. No further details are given.

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stratify stored seed for 3 months at 2¡c[113]. Germination is usually good and takes place in the first spring[K]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[11].
Succeeds in any well-drained moisture retentive soil in full sun with shelter from cold winds[200]. Prefers a good loamy soil[11]. A fast growing[1] and very cold-tolerant tree, withstanding temperatures down to about -20¡c[74]. Trees are commonly cultivated in Russia and China, both for gutta percha and for the medicinal used of the stembark[11, 218]. By using different solvents it is possible to obtain both of these products and the residue is then used for energy production[218]. This species is the only hardy rubber tree that can be grown outdoors in Britain[11]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
E. Asia – China.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.