Camphor tree

Cinnamomum camphora
Camphor tree: Cinnamomum camphora Camphor tree: Cinnamomum camphora

Common name:

Camphor tree

Scientific name:

Cinnamomum camphora (Lauraceae)

Alternative common names:

Camphor laurel; camphorwood (English); kanferboom (Afrikaans); ulosilina (isiZulu)

This tree is an evergreen tree growing 10-26m high with a dense canopy. It has smooth bark which is green becoming rough, scaly and brownish-grey. Trunk becomes massive and spreading at its base. The leaves reddish when young turning glossy bright green above and blue-grey beneath and three-veined from the base. Tiny yellowish or greenish-white flowers appear from September to November

Additional Info

  • Where does this species come from?

    East Asia

    What is its invasive status in South Africa?

    CARA 2002 – Category 1 but only in Limpopo, KZN, & Mpumalanga NEMBA - Category 1b in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. b. NEMBA Category 3 in Western Cape. c. National Heritage Trees or National Monument Trees in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act, 1999, (Act No. 25 of 1999) in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape, are not listed. d. Not listed elsewhere.

    Where in South Africa is it a problem?

    Mostly in KwaZulu-Natal and a few localities in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Western Cape

    How does it spread?

    Spread by seeds

    Why is it a problem?

    Indigenous birds may neglect the dispersal of indigenous plant species as a consequence of their preference for the fruits of this alien species. Competes with and replaces indigenous plants

    What does it look like?

    General description: Evergreen tree 10-26m high, canopy dense, rounded to spreading; bark smooth, green becoming rough, scaly and brownish-grey; trunk becomes massive and spreading at the base. Leaves: The leaves reddish when young turning glossy bright green above and blue-grey beneath and three-veined from the base. They are camphor-scented when crushed, distinctly three-veined from the base. Flowers: Yellowish or greenish-white flowers appearing from September to November. Fruit/Seeds: Produces bluish-black berries.

    Does the plant have any uses?

    Mostly used as an ornament, shade, timber; honey source, and birds feed on the berries

    Plant me instead alternatives

    White Milkwood (Syderoxylon inerme), White ironwood (Vepris lanceolata), Natal Mahogany (Trichilia emetica)