Eucommia ulmoides (Hardy Rubber Tree) can reach heights of 20 to 40 feet, making an impressive and stately addition to any garden or landscape. It's also often referred to as "Gutta-Percha" plant, named after a gum resin produced by Eucommia species. The bark, which is usually grey to blackish-brown, is deeply furrowed and highly valued for its medicinal properties. In the wild, Eucommia grows in exposed areas such as forest edges and stream banks, often in association with river willows.
This deciduous tree should be grown in full sun, in well-draining soil with moderate water. It will tolerate a wide range of soil types, from sandy and loamy soils to clay-based soils. Eucommia ulmoides is an ideal addition to gardens and landscapes in USDA Zones 5-9. In cold climates it should be grown in a large pot to allow for the dormant period in winter.
Eucommia ulmoides has a wide range of traditional medicinal uses. The leaves, bark and flowers are all used in Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory and a tonic for strengthening the bones and tendons. Studies have also found that extracts from the bark are effective against several types of cancer. In addition to its many medicinal uses, Eucommia is also used as an ethnomedical plant, where its sweet fruits are eaten by some to reduce blood sugar levels.
It is a beautiful and fast-growing tree, and its many medicinal uses provide it with an additional value. With its full sun exposure, moderate water needs and cold hardiness, this is a great tree for providing shade and beauty in any landscape.