Taxonomic name: Cinnamomum camphora (L.) J. Presl
Synonyms: Laurus camphora (L.)
Common names: alcanfor (Spanish), alcanforero (Spanish), arvore da camphora (Portuguese), campher (German), camphor laurel (English), camphor tree (English), camphre (French), camphrier (French), canfora (Italian), Japanese camphor (English), kampferbaum (German), kuso-no-ki (Japanese)
Organism type: tree
Cinnamomum camphora is native to Japan, China, Taiwan and northern Vietnam. C. camphora has become widely naturalised in Australia. In the United States, it grows along the Gulf Coast and in California. 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. C. camphora fruits, leaves, and roots are toxic to humans in large doses.
The camphor tree is a broadleaved evergreen growing to heights of 15 - 30m achieving a canopy that is twice as wide as its height. According to FFI (2003), the leaves of C. Camphora are 5-8cm long, 1.5-5cm 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 of C. Camphora is a black drupe, about 2cm 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 odour when crushed making it easy to identify.
natural forests, ruderal/disturbed, scrub/shrublands, urban areas
LCD (2000) indicates that C. camphora 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, C. camphora 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.
Murray and Ramey (2003) note that C. camphora grows like a weed, infesting forests and displacing native trees. According to LCD (2000), C. camphora 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.
According to LCD (2000), C. camphora is widely planted as a shade tree, screen, or windbreak. In China and Japan, it is grown commercially for its medicinal oil.
Major chemical compounds in wood and leaves of C. camphora are camphor, safrole, linalool, 1,8-cineole, a-pinene, a-terpineol, ?-cymene.
Native range: LCD (2000) states that C. camphora is native to Japan, China, Taiwan and northern Vietnam.
Known introduced range: C. camphora has become widely naturalised in Australia. In the United States, it grows along the Gulf Coast and in California.
Local dispersal methods
Consumption/excretion: Cinnamomum camphora seeds are easily spread by birds from cultivated yards to open forests (Murray and Ramey, 2003).
For ornamental purposes (local): According to Murray and Ramey (2003), Cinnamomum camphora is sold in plant nurseries for ornamental purposes.
Preventative measures: A Risk Assessment of
Cinnamomum camphora for Hawai‘i and other Pacific islands was prepared by Dr. Curtis Daehler (UH Botany) with funding from the Kaulunani Urban Forestry Program and US Forest Service. The alien plant screening system is derived from Pheloung et al. (1999) with minor modifications for use in Pacific islands (Daehler et al. 2004). The result is a score of 7.5 and a recommendation of: "Likely to cause significant ecological or economic harm in Hawai‘i and on other Pacific Islands as determined by a high WRA score, which is based on published sources describing species biology and behaviour in Hawai‘i and/or other parts of the world."
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.
Chemical: Foliar spray with herbicides on young Cinnamomum camphora trees up to 3m tall is also effective. Basal bark or cut stump herbicide treatments are effective for trees up to 6m , or with a basal stem diameter up to 30cm with no multi stems. For basal bark, spray from ground level up to a height of 30cm or higher than where multi stems branch.
WAC (UNDATED) indicates that C. camphora flowers are hermaphroditic. The fruit ripens in autumn and turns black when ripe. Seeds of C. camphora have poor germination due to a hard seed coat.
Reviewed by: Ching-Te Chien (Ph.D.) Associate Researcher Taiwan Forestry Research Institute. Taipei , Taiwan
Compiled by: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Last Modified: Sunday, 3 July 2005