Latex as found in nature is a milky fluid found in 10% of all flowering plants (angiosperms). It is a complex emulsion consisting of proteins, alkaloids, starches, sugars, oils, tannins, resins, and gums that coagulate on exposure to air. It is usually exuded after tissue injury. In most plants, latex is white, but some have yellow, orange, or scarlet latex. Since the 17th century, latex has been used as a term for the fluid substance in plants. It serves mainly as defense against herbivorous insects. Latex is not to be confused with plant sap; it is a separate substance, separately produced, and with separate functions.
Originally, the name given to latex by indigenous Equator tribes[clarification needed] who cultivated the plant, Hevea Brasiliensis was "caoutchouc", from the words caa ('tear') and ochu ('tree'), because of the way it is collected.