Cinnamomum camphora

For the Australian tree also known as Camphorwood, see Cinnamomum oliveri.
Camphor Laurel
An ancient camphor tree (estimated to be over 1,000 years old) in Japan
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Magnoliids
Order: Laurales
Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Cinnamomum
Species: C. camphora
Binomial name
Cinnamomum camphora
(L.) Sieb.

Cinnamomum camphora (commonly known as Camphor tree, Camphorwood or camphor laurel) is a large evergreen tree that grows up to 20–30 metres tall. The leaves have a glossy, waxy appearance and smell of camphor when crushed. In spring it produces bright green foliage with masses of small white flowers. It produces clusters of black berry-like fruit around one centimetre in diameter. It has a pale bark that is very rough and fissured vertically.

Camphor is a white crystalline substance, obtained from the tree Cinnamomum camphora. Camphor has been used for many centuries as a culinary spice, a component of incense, and as a medicine. Camphor is also an insect repellent and a flea-killing substance.

Cinnamomum camphora is native to Taiwan, southern Japan, southeast China and Indochina, where it is also cultivated for camphor and timber production. The production and shipment of camphor, in a solid, waxy form, was a major industry in Taiwan prior to and during the Japanese colonial era (1895–1945). It was used medicinally and was also an important ingredient in the production of smokeless gunpowder and celluloid. Primitive stills were set up in the mountainous areas in which the tree is usually found. The wood was chipped; these chips were steamed in a retort, allowing the camphor to crystallize on the inside of a crystallization box, after the vapour had passed through a cooling chamber. It was then scraped off and packed out to government-run factories for processing and sale. Camphor was one of the most lucrative of several important government monopolies under the Japanese.


In other languages

  • kusu no ki (楠の木 or くすのき) in Japanese
  • nok na mu (녹나무) in Korean
  • karpuuram/pacchaik karpooram in (கற்பூரம்/பச்சைக்கற்பூரம்) Tamil, Sanskrit
  • kapoor in Hindi
  • Paccha Karpooramu in Telugu
  • zhang shu (Chinese: 樟樹; pinyin: zhāngshù) in Chinese. There is Zhangshu city in Jiangxi province, China, named after it.
  • shajarol-kafoor (شجر الكافور -- trees of kafoor [kæːˈfuːr]) in Arabic
  • ravintsara (good leaves) in Madagascar
  • kafrovník lékařský in Czech

Culinary uses of camphor


In the ancient and medieval Middle East and Europe, camphor was used as ingredient for sweets but it is now mainly used for medicinal purposes. For example, camphor was used as a flavoring in confections resembling ice cream in China during the Tang dynasty (AD 618–907). An anonymous Andalusian cookbook of the 13th century contains a recipe for meat with apples, which is flavored with camphor and musk.[1] A 13th century recipe for "Honeyed Dates" is also flavored with Camphor.[2] By the time of the Renaissance, camphor as a culinary ingredient had fallen into disuse in Europe.

Today, camphor is widely used in cooking (mainly for dessert dishes such as kheer or paal paayasam) in India where it is known as pachha karpooram (literally meaning "green camphor"). It is widely available at Indian grocery stores and is labeled as "edible camphor". In Hindu poojas and ceremonies, camphor is burned in a ceremonial spoon or plates for performing aarti. This type of camphor is also sold at Indian grocery stores but it is not suitable for cooking.

The twigs and leaves of the camphor plant are used in the smoking and preparation of Zhangcha duck, a typical banquet and celebratory dish in Szechuan cuisine.

In Australia

C camphora in the public Botanic Gardens in Adelaide, South Australia
Camphor Laurel in fruit at Turramurra railway station, Australia

Cinnamomum camphora was introduced to Australia in 1822 as an ornamental tree for use in gardens and public parks, where it is commonly called Camphor laurel. It has become a weed throughout Queensland and central to northern New South Wales where it is suited to the wet, subtropical climate. However, the tree provides hollows quickly in younger trees, whereas natives can take hundreds of years to develop hollows.

It has been declared a noxious weed in many parts of Queensland and New South Wales.[3] Its massive and spreading root systems disrupt urban drainage and sewerage systems and degrade river banks. Its leaves have a very high carbon content, which damages water quality and freshwater fish habitats when they fall into streams and rivers. The camphor content of the leaf litter helps prevent other plants from germinating successfully, helping to ensure the camphor's success against any potentially competing vegetation, and the seeds are attractive to birds and pass intact through the digestive system, ensuring rapid distribution. Camphor laurel invades rainforests and pastures, and also competes against eucalyptus trees which are the sole food source of koalas, which are endangered in many parts of eastern Australia.

In the United States

Introduced to the contiguous United States around 1875, Cinnamomum camphora has become naturalized in portions of the states of Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, and South Carolina.[4] It has been declared a category I invasive species in Florida.[5]


Propagate by seed. USDA Hardiness Zone[6] 9B to 11. Camphor trees grow in full sun to partial shade. They tolerate clay, loam, sand, slightly alkaline to acidic soils, and drought. They need to be well drained or they may suffer from root rot.[7]

Chemical constituents

Camphor laurel contains volatile chemical compounds in all plant parts, and the wood and leaves are steam distilled for the essential oils. Camphor laurel has six different chemical variants called chemotypes, which are camphor, linalool, 1,8-cineole, nerolidol, safrole, or borneol. In China field workers avoid mixing chemotypes when harvesting by their odour.[8][9] The cineole fraction of camphor laurel is used in China to manufacture fake "Eucalyptus oil".[10]

The chemical variants (or chemotypes) seem dependent upon the country of origin of the tree. The tree is native to China, Japan, and Taiwan. It has been introduced to the other countries where it has been found, and the chemical variants are identifiable by country. i.e., Cinnamomum camphora grown in Taiwan and Japan, (often commonly called "Ho Wood") is normally very high in Linalool, often between 80 and 85%. In India and Sri Lanka the high camphor variety/chemotype remains dominant. The Cinnamomum camphora grown in Madagascar, on the other hand, is high in 1,8 Cineole (averaging between 40 and 50%. The essential oil from the Madagascar trees is commercially known as Ravintsara.[11]

See also


  1. ^ "An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the 13th century" Translated Charles Perry, taken from Cariadoc¹s Miscellany
  2. ^ "In A Caliph's Kitchen" by David Waines
  3. ^ Noxious weed declaration for NSW
  4. ^ "Plants Profile: Cinnamomum camphora". Natural Resources Conservation Service. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  5. ^ Forest Starr, Kim Starr, and Lloyd Loope (January 2003). "Cinnamomum camphora". United States Geological Survey: Biological Resources Division. Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project. Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  6. ^ USDA Hardiness Zone
  7. ^ E.F. Gilman & D.G. Watson Fact Sheet ST-167 Cinnamomum Camphora Nov. 1993
  8. ^ Hirota, N. and Hiroi, M., 1967. ‘The later studies on the camphor tree, on the leaf oil of each practical form and its utilisation’, Perfumery and Essential Oil Record 58, 364-367.
  9. ^ Lawrence, B. M., 1995. ‘Progress in essential oils’, Perfumer and Flavorist, 20, 29-41.
  10. ^ Ashurst, P.R., Food Flavorings, 1999
  11. ^ Behra, Burfield,

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cinnamomum camphora —   Alcanforero Un viej …   Wikipedia Español

  • Cinnamomum camphora — Camphrier Camphrier …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cinnamomum camphora — Kampferbaum Kampferbaum (Cinnamomum camphora) Systematik Klasse: Dreifurchenpollen Zweikeimblättrige …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cinnamomum Camphora — Camphor Cam phor (k[a^]m f[ e]r), n. [OE. camfere, F. camphre (cf. It. canfora, Sp. camfora, alcanfor, LL. canfora, camphora, NGr. kafoyra ), fr. Ar. k[=a]f[=u]r, prob. fr. Skr. karp[=u]ra.] 1. A tough, white, aromatic resin, or gum, obtained… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cinnamomum camphora — kamparinis cinamonas statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Lauramedinių šeimos medieninis, vaistinis augalas (Cinnamomum camphora), iš kurio gaunamas eterinis aliejus. Paplitęs rytų Azijoje. atitikmenys: lot. Cinnamomum camphora; Laurus camphora… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • Cinnamomum camphora — ID 18915 Symbol Key CICA Common Name camphortree Family Lauraceae Category Dicot Division Magnoliophyta US Nativity Introduced to U.S. US/NA Plant Yes State Distribution AL, CA, FL, GA, HI, LA, MS, NC, PR, SC, TX, VI Growth Habit Tree …   USDA Plant Characteristics

  • Cinnamomum camphora — noun large evergreen tree of warm regions whose aromatic wood yields camphor • Syn: ↑camphor tree • Hypernyms: ↑laurel • Member Holonyms: ↑Cinnamomum, ↑genus Cinnamomum …   Useful english dictionary

  • Cinnamomum camphora — …   Википедия

  • CINNAMOMUM CAMPHORA (L.) NEES ET EBERM. - КОРИЧНИК КАМФАРНЫЙ, КАМФАРНЫЙ ЛАВР — см. 332. Дерево. С. camphora (L.) Nees et Eberm. К. камфарный, Камфарный лавр Handb. Med. Pharm. Bot. II (1831) 340. Wealth of India II (1950) 73, f. 73. Дер. и куст. III (1954) 115. Дгебуадзе (1955) 38. Ненарокомов (1957) 106. Атлас лек. раст.… …   Справочник растений

  • Cinnamomum camphora (L.) J. Presl — Symbol CICA Common Name camphortree Botanical Family Lauraceae …   Scientific plant list

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