Camphor Tree
Cinnamomum camphora - (L.) J. Presl.
Lauraceae (Laurel) Family

The camphor tree is a dense broadleaved evergreen that is capable of growing 50-150 feet tall and spreading twice that wide with a trunk up to 15 feet in diameter, though the largest U.S. specimens are only half that size and those in the Caribbean are even smaller.

The leaves are alternate on the stem; 1-4 inch oval outline attached to long leaf stalks (petioles). Each leaf has three distinct yellowish veins. The outer margins of the leaf tends to be somewhat wavy and turn upward. The new foliage starts out a rusty burgundy color, but soon turns dark green on the upper sides and paler green underneath. Camphor tree can be readily identified by the distinctive odor of a crushed leaf.

New branches emerging from the shallowly fissured grayish brown trunk are smooth and green. Twigs are usually green, but may be tinged with red when young.

The flowers are tiny cream colored and are borne in the spring on branching 3 inch flower stalks.

Fruit is a round pea sized berry attached to the branchlet by a cuplike green cone; first turning reddish, then ripen to black.

At one time the camphor tree was planted a landscape shade tree; however, landscape use is no longer considered appropriate for this invasive species. The tree comes from China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and adjacent parts of East Asia, where it grows in mesic forests and on well-drained sites along streambanks.

In the United States, it is grown along the Gulf Coast and in California, and has escaped cultivation and become naturalized in many areas.

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