(L.) J. Presl (Camphor tree )
Family: Lauraceae (Laurel Family)
Synonym(s): Camphora camphora, Laurus camphora
Description: The camphor tree is a broadleaved evergreen growing to heights of 15 - 30 m achieving a canopy that is twice as wide as its height. According to FFI (2003), the leaves of C. camphora are 5-8 cm long, 1.5-5 cm wide, oval-shaped, and taper into an acute apex. Leaf bases are wedge-shaped or rounded and the leaf surfaces are bright green and lustrous above, duller and slightly greyish-green below. The fruit ripens in autumn and turns black when ripe, and are about 2 cm in diameter, held by a leathery floral, funnel-like tube that occurs in clusters at the end of a stalk.The leaves of the camphor tree give off a strong odor when crushed making it easy to identify.
History: Cinnamomum camphora is native to Japan, China, Taiwan and northern Vietnam. It has become widely naturalized in Australia. In the United States, it grows along the Gulf Coast and in California.
Biology & Spread: C. camphora seeds are easily spread by birds from cultivated yards to open forests, and it is also spread to new locations through plant nursery sales.
Ecological Threat: C. camphora grows like a weed, infesting forests and displacing native trees. Also, its fruits, leaves, and roots are toxic to humans in large doses. They contain chemicals that stimulate the central nervous system and may affect respiration or cause convulsions. In Chinese medicine, camphor is forbidden for pregnant women and those with a deficiency of vital energy or yin.
US Habitat: LCD (2000) indicates that it prefers fertile, sandy soil. It will tolerate a pH anywhere in the range of 4.3 to 8, and will grow in full sun or partial shade. However, it does not do well in wet soils. Established trees are tolerant of drought. Occurs primarily in drier disturbed areas such as roadsides and fencerows, but has invaded natural areas such as mesic hammocks, upland pine woods, and scrubland.
Resembles/Alternatives: Cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is a related species, but it has larger leaves. This species is very similar to C. camphora in overall size and may be used in similar landscaping situations.
Management: Physical: According to Starr et al. (2003), small seedlings of C. camphora can be hand pulled or grubbed out. It is important that the roots are removed otherwise the tree could regrow.
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Last Updated: 2004-05-30 by ARMO, TISI