T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Cinnamomum camphora (Camphor laurel)

Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Magnoliids
Order: Laurales
Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Cinnamomum
Species: C. camphora
Binomial name: Cinnamomum camphora
Synonyms: Camphora camphora, Camphora officinarum, Cinnamomum camphoroides, Cinnamomum officinalis, Cinnamomum officinarum, Laurus camphora, Persea camphora
Common names: Camphor laurel, Camphor tree, Camphorwood,  Camphor tree, Formosa camphor, Gum camphor, Japanese camphor, Shiu leaf, True camphor

Cinnamomum camphora is a large, spreading, evergreen tree that is native to eastern Asia and is now is naturalised globally... Cinnamomum camphora contains significant amounts of various chemicals known or suspected of being toxic and/or carcinogenic. Camphor was extracted from the leaves and used in medicines and mothballs up until the 1920's, when camphor oil was produced artificially
In some countries it is invasive and in now causing serious problems in Australia’s bushland, rural areas, waterways and also in urban areas. When growing in suburban backyards, its massive root structure can cause serious damage to concrete structures and block drains. In bush land areas it often competes with, and displaces native trees and other vegetation. In these conditions it can develop into a single species community, depriving many birds and animals of their natural food supply. The chemicals produced by the camphor laurel can poison fishlings and other water life. At present it is not classed as a pest plant in New Zealand but it has a potential to become one.

Cinnamomum camphora grows up to >30 m tall. The tree has scaly, vertically fissured, light brown or greyish-brown bark that is highly aromatic.
The bright, glossy leaves are waxy appearance and smell of camphor when crushed. They are alternately arranged, but sometimes they are densely clustered (pseudo-whorled), with leaf stakes 15-40 mm long. The leaves (>11 cm long and >6 cm wide) vary from oval to broadly egg-shaped in outline with broad end at base and have three distinct veins spreading from their bases. The leaves undersides are a blue/green with a waxy bloom. The leaves are hairless with entire margins that are often wavy, and have pointed tips . Oil glands and two small raised swellings (domatia) are evident on the veins of the leaves, if they are observed with a hand lens.
In spring Cinnamomum camphora produces new bright green foliage with masses of small cream flowers. The flowers have with six whitish, greenish-white or pale yellowish 'petals' (perianth lobes) >3 mm long. They also have 5-9 stamens. These flowers are borne in small branched clusters (about 7.5 cm long) at the tips of the branches (in terminal panicles). 
In autumn and winter the flowers develop into clusters of many green, pea sized drupes that turn a glossy black when ripe. These drupes each containing a hard centre. The fruit’s seeds are usually dispersed by birds but may also be dispersed by water, other animals, and in dumped garden waste. Establishment of seedlings occurs widely. Suckers are also readily produced, particularly when older trees are poisoned, damaged or cut down.
Seedlings can be recognised by their red stems and 3 veined leaves.

The flowers.

The black, ripe, pea sized drupes. 


Two small raised swellings (domatia) are evident on the veins of the leaf.

The scaly, vertically fissured,

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