Camphor Tree Growing: Camphor Tree Uses In The Landscape


By: Teo Spengler

Love it or hate it – few gardeners feel neutral about the camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora). Camphor trees in the landscape grow very big, very fast, making some homeowners happy, others uncomfortable. The tree also produces thousands of berries that can result in thousands of seedlings in your backyard. Read on for more camphor tree information.

Camphor Tree Information

Camphor trees in the landscape cannot be ignored. Each tree can grow to 150 feet (46 m.) tall and spread twice as wide. Camphor tree information also notes that the trunks get to 15 feet (4.6 m.) in diameter in some locations, although in the United States, the maximum trunk diameter is much smaller.

Camphor trees have glossy oval leaves that dangle from long petioles. Leaves start out a rusty red, but soon turn dark green with three yellow veins. The leaves are paler underneath and darker on top.

These trees are native to mesic forests of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, but the tree has become naturalized in Australia and thrives in the Gulf and Pacific Coast regions.

Camphor Tree Growing

If you are interested in camphor tree growing, you’ll need some additional camphor tree information. These trees like to grow in fertile sandy soil with a pH level of between 4.3 and 8. Camphor tree growing is best in full sun or partial shade.

When caring for camphor trees, you’ll need to water them when they are first transplanted, but once they are established, they are drought tolerant.

Don’t plant with the intention of transplanting in mind. When you are caring for camphor trees, you need to know that their roots are very sensitive to disturbance and grow far from the trunk.

Camphor Tree Uses

Camphor tree uses include planting as a shade tree or windbreak. Its long roots make it very resilient to storms and wind.

However, other camphor tree uses may surprise you. The tree is grown commercially in China and Japan for its oil that is used for medicinal purposes. Camphor oil has been used to treat conditions from parasitic infections to toothaches, and the plant chemicals have value in antiseptics.

Other camphor tree uses involve its attractive red and yellow striped wood. It is good for woodworking, and repelling insects. Camphor is also used in perfumes.

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We have a mature camphor tree in the front yard, which every year drops hundreds of berries into the grass. As a result, my lawn is INFESTED with small camphor seedlings. I used to pull them up by hand, but I can't keep up and the lawn looks aweful - about half grass and half weed. Any suggestions for dealing with this?

This article on Camphor trees has several suggestions on management of this plant: http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/101

(The management section is about 1/3 of the way thru the article.)

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Cinnamomum Species, Camphor Tree, Camphor Laurel, Camphorwood

Category:

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Foliage:

Foliage Color:

Height:

Spacing:

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual

Danger:

Seed is poisonous if ingested

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From seed direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Los Altos, California(2 reports)

Sacramento, California(2 reports)

Dunnellon, Florida(2 reports)

Jacksonville, Florida(5 reports)

Leesburg, Florida(2 reports)

Panama City Beach, Florida

Rockledge, Florida(2 reports)

Brunswick, Georgia(2 reports)

Baton Rouge, Louisiana(2 reports)

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Saint Helena Island, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina

Gardeners' Notes:

On Nov 10, 2020, kinsh52 from Pittsburg, CA wrote:

City camphor trees growing on the opposite side of an 8-foot concrete barrier with lateral and feeder roots spreading 20 feet into my yard. Grows through and up/under concrete. Lots of leaves falling that I compost and lots of shade. Competes with anything that I grow on the ground, so I've had to put weedblock on my raised garden beds. As for other trees, it's been difficult, but I'm still trying.
Roots tends to dry out the bottom soil layer even when I've heavily mulched the whole yard. I've got my greywater system set up and gutter to landscape almost complete this year to add moisture to the yard for future trees.

On May 14, 2019, NewGarden__ from Carmichael, CA wrote:

Does anyone know what plants will grow under a camphor tree in zone 9?

On Sep 14, 2018, Jackson_III from Fremont, CA wrote:

This tree is beautiful but it's way too big for a small front yard and too big to be planted so close to our house. It's about 5 ft from the house and has a huge trunk that's about 4 ft in diameter at the base. I estimate the tree to be about 50-60 ft tall and the foliage about 50 ft across. It drops large dead branches periodically and drops a massive amount of leaves that are blown all over the neighborhood every April. Pretty tree though.

On Jul 27, 2017, msglo from Hanford, CA wrote:

I have 3 camphor trees, never have been allergic to them, they provide a lot of shade. My Father planted them years ago, they have to be at least 30 years old. They have always looked beautiful but I noticed in the spring that the leaves were beginning to fall now and then but recently they are just dropping every other minute. One tree appears to be almost bare of leaves. What is happening to it. Does it need vitamins. I'm not a great gardener therefore I haven't fed it much in the past but this spring I gave it miracle grow and 10-10-10. Did I do something wrong. How can I help it out. Thank you for any ideas. I love my trees, we have doves, hummingbirds and mocking birds nesting in them.

On Feb 25, 2017, coffeesucker from Jacksonville, FL wrote:

Jacksonville, FL - I have camphor growing along my tree line. I didn't even know what it was until I had to have a mature red maple taking down (dying).
The arborist asked me if I wanted to cut the camphor down and I declined because it provides shade to my only totally-shaded area on my property. I haven't seen suckers or rogue seedlings (thinking mimosa tree). For the most part, this is a well-behaved invasive - if it weren't, I'd be working on elimination.

On Jul 10, 2015, nativelyeager from Brooksville, FL wrote:

This is EXTREMELY INVASIVE, is FLEPPC Cat I listed, and has no business being anywhere outside of native range. GET RID OF IT. please?
Pretty, sure, but so was Mata Hari.

On May 12, 2015, willoveless from Lakeland, FL wrote:

We have one in the back yard that is cut back to a stump every year.grows so fast.my landlady cut and trimmed it this time and ended up getting so sick that she wound up in the e.r. from exposure. It makes me break out with a rash when I'm around it.smells horrible to me

On Apr 14, 2015, Hugh2015roots from Sacramento, CA wrote:

Before, I didn't know this Cinnamomum camphora tree at all, even when people are telling me that it has a medicinal value to it. I thought it was just a native California tree until I researched it, and learned it was originally from China and Japan. My family is Asian. I learn the medicinal value of it from other Asian people, so maybe they have used it. This tree grows everywhere in Sacramento, California. My sister wants to grow one in Georgia so I'll tell her that they have tons of them in Florida.

I learn from other Asian people that this tree is helpful in bringing back the health of stroke patients. What I meant by this is that you boil its' leaves, bark, maybe even roots and use the boiled water, when cooled, to bathe the stroke patient, and the patient should recov. read more er faster, I suppose. I don't know why I'm telling you this, maybe because I want to defend the tree's beneficial qualities. Maybe you'll think I'm nuts in suggesting this. Maybe the Asian folks will be angry at me for letting out this secret. Who knows. I don't practice any herbal medicine and don't know or claim any medicinal value from this tree. This is information I have given freely. Do your own research if you want to know more and come to your own conclusion.

This camphor tree is a nice evergreen shade tree so I will look for one and plant it in my yard.

On Jul 25, 2013, alfu from Gainesville, FL wrote:

Horribly invasive. I am continually pulling up seedlings that are spread everywhere here by birds that eat its berries. The tree needs to be dug out by its roots to be removed. Parts of its dead brittle wood break off in high winds, but not if the stems are live. I doubt any hurricane will blow a tree over, however, because their root systems are awesome.

On Feb 10, 2013, guygee from Satellite Beach, FL wrote:

This plant is listed as a Category I Invasive by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. The tree is said to be displacing many natural species in Southern forests, both by direct competition and due to its highly allelopathic oils, which are also said to be harmful to a variety of aquatic animal species. The roots are reported to be destructive and span long distances, with the occurance of sprouting even from small root segments. Even if you live in a city it is impossible to control the seed dispersion of a large specimen since the mechanism for dispersal is by birds that eagerly eat the mature fruits but pass the seeds intact. No matter how attractive you think the plant is it would seem the responsible thing to do is to destroy any large specimens you may have on your property.
. read more
That being said this species is still very attractive for its medicinal properties and for use as an additive to tea or food for flavoring, as well as for aromatherapy. I am warned that care must be taken to use it very sparingly to avoid toxicity. I have obtained several seeds that were easily germinated and are now seedlings. My plan is to keep a couple of the plants in pots, trimming off any flowers for use (one of the most delectable parts) and thus preventing the possibility of letting any seeds escape into the wild.

A potted specimen can be controlled. I have left instructions with family member to destroy the specimens if I should fall ill or die.

On Feb 8, 2013, Celtlady from Cedar Springs, MI wrote:

We just had a camphor tree cut down & the stump ground out at our place near Tampa, FL. The tree was about 20' tall, messy, and in poor condition. Constantly dropping leaves and twigs.
Is the bark ok to use as mulch in a small planting bed, or is it toxic or chemically damaging to other landscaping plants? If not ok to use 100%, how much is ok to add? Is it good as an insect repellent as a mulch additive?

On Jul 15, 2012, rolyacde from Orlando, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Although we've always loved camphor trees because of the aroma they put out and the bug repelling qualities they possess, and had 4 large ones in our yard before last year, we had them cut down about a year ago, due to them having too many branches that were hanging over our house and cars, which posed too much of a threat of falling limbs.

Due to our cats enjoying jumping up on the stumps that were left, we left a couple of the stumps for our cats to jump up on. And after a year now, we have our camphor back, only it is in the form of large, beautiful bushes, as the stumps we left there have turned into magnificent camphor bushes, which is a major attraction to butterflies when they come into our yard, as the camphor bushes are usually the first place they go.

> We're so happy with the camphor bushes that we're thinking we should have left all of the camphor stumps there. But since we didn't, we've now gone around and dug up some of the small camphor trees that had started growing from the seeds spread by the large camphor trees, which trees are now about 1 to 2 feet tall, and have put them into 3 gallon containers with each other to create a couple more camphor bushes for another place in our yard.

Yes, camphor trees are invasive and can result in many small camphor trees growing all over your yard if you have a large camphor tree in your yard. But we've not had that problem with the camphor bush, although if we ever do, we wouldn't consider it much of a problem anyway, because of how easy they are to pluck out of the ground. and how good they smell when you break the leaves in half.

So if you're unhappy with a camphor tree in your yard because of how many small camphor they tend to produce all over the place, but like the other fine qualities of camphor, you might try what we did and create a nice camphor bush to replace it with.

If you are ever at Epcot center in Orlando Florida. take a look at the row of camphor trees they have by the Norway pavilion. They're beautiful.

On Jul 7, 2012, steadycam3 from Houston Heights, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have a couple very small specimens in a flower bed. I did not know what it was and cut it down several times. This year, I noticed many leaves folded over. Peering inside, a spicebush caterpillar looked back at me. That gave me a way to look up the plant to find its name. Turns out it is a member of the Laurel family which is a host plant for this butterfly. They used my spice bush as well but almost seem to prefer the camphor bush (mine is just a bush about 3 feet tall). I want to keep the bush and wonder if I could just prune it to keep it small. I love growing those butterflies.

On Jun 23, 2012, HL_Nursery777 from Dunnellon, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Now I am going to post my strong views up about this tree.

Now I understand this tree is on the USDA Cat. 1 Invasive list, and I understand this tree is Non- Native.
But it does not mean this tree is a "threat" because the "government said so". These trees are very tame compared to some of these natives out around. holy cow!
Oaks, Maples, and Cherry Laurel stomp out the camphor tree in numbers and overall space by 1000 each 1! So what it "suckers back non-stop" and "oh noo. There is a sapling in my rose bed!". But don't think I am some supporter of exotics or something, because I can tell you, I am no friend of kudzu or air potato. These two and some others are a BIG threat of native habitats. I hope they get bored one day and go back to the real home that. read more they naturally roam. Then look at the camphor tree, so chilled out compared to it's friends at home that make a circus ruckus in the forests that are over here. The camphor tree berries gets dispersed by birds, but the saplings that come out of those seeds never go rampage wherever they spread. And NEVER, EVER have I seen in my life a 70% or more invasion thicket (A Monoculture) of camphor trees. More than 95% of camphor trees never make it to moderate size, because they either get covered up by natives or by other exotics. I think even if 100% of all camphor trees that would sprout made it to maximum size, there still would not be a big and vast conflict there. Oh, and for those who are OVER THE TOP, not moderate, blah blah-ers about "Oh my gosh, that tree is too messy!, get you lazy hamburger buns off the couch, get that rake, and start working! That's what part of gardening is about, right? Please do this over - criticized tree a favor and take a few minutes of your time, and contact the USDA and tell them that this tree and it's "invasiveness" Is WAY too hyped up and based on fear from some people. And don't forget, this tree has a lot of uses! Thanks for reading my comments!
HL_Nursery777

On May 31, 2012, Ravendarkstar from Seffner, FL wrote:

When we moved in to htis house 2 years ago, we were thrilled to find that there was a 34" Circumfrence Grand Camphor tree in the back yard.
We love the tree! The smell, the shade the asthetic appeal alone is awesome.

Sadly we may have to have it removed. Almost 50% of the canopy has been attacked. There are boring beetles and carpenter ants attacking it. I am trying hard to find natural methods to rid the tree of these pests so that we can save the tree. We are thinking of removing the dead parts, as the tree is in distress, and is trying to save its self.
If any of you have ideas I'm open to help.
Thank you.

On Mar 22, 2012, Aegletes from Debary, FL wrote:

Attractive tree when mature, but very prolific in Florida. It has a brittle trunk and limbs that break easily in strong winds. Camphor trees are also said to be harmful to amphibians. I recently cut down more than 20 of these trees that were invading the wooded area of my property and I'm still fighting the seedlings and the sprouts that continually grow back from the stumps.

On Jun 12, 2011, pickyjulie from Leesburg, FL wrote:

Interesting to read the variable comments here -- I live in a duplex apartment [read: fairly limited space] in Central FL Z9, and have five very large camphor trees planted in the areas just directly around me - my only regret is that the trees are not CLOSER or IN my small yard to provide the perfect shade for this area to be able to keep anything alive without watering day and night . I mulch everything with their leaves [free, keep down the seedlings and other weeds, and are an absolute bug/pest-deterrant] . the Cherry Laurel comment I also found interesting, as in my yard THEY sucker everywhere with invasive roots and are almost impossible to control. The camphors remain absolutely beautiful here year-round, have a serene, graceful branching profile, and I have ne. read more ver seen a branch down from these trees in fifteen years . as for berries and twigs, I am frankly weary of hearing complaints from compulsive neat-nik gardeners who should know better ---- without trees, we and everything else, will perish . get over it, get off the couch, and rake it up!!

On Mar 31, 2011, flchick52 from Lutz, FL wrote:

I am so surprised to hear all of the negative comments about this tree. I have one in my yard and it has the most beautiful character of limbs, along with the fact that the leaves stay green year round. The canopy is so amazing that I recently transplanted one that is about 3 feet tall (it was in my front yard) and planted it in my backyard. My neighbor behind me has a disgusting sun room that is slanted toward my property and during two months of winter, it reflects sun directly onto my house so bad that I cannot open my shades/drapes during that time. I am hoping this tree turns out as beautiful as my other one and I am also thinking about planting two more to block the reflection. Also, the sunroom top is disgusting to look at and she has said she is going to tear that room off but. read more who knows when that will happen. Anyway, I LOVE Camphor trees so please don't get discouraged if you recently planted some or are thinking of doing so in the future.

Happy with Camphor in Tampa, FL! :)

On Mar 18, 2011, spaceman_spiff from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have a question about this tree. Some friends of mine are considering planting one in their front yard. (Zone 9b, west coast of Florida, USA). I've read the positives and negatives about it (and have printed them all out for them to read), but my question is: Are these trees monoecious or dioecious? In other words, are there male and female specimens of this tree?

I'm asking because my friends are wondering if ALL specimens of this tree produce the annoying berries, or is it only the female specimen (as with live oaks producing acorns). If so, they do not want this tree because it will drop berries all over their cars and driveway. (One side of the driveway already gets partially covered from their neighbors' camphor tree). But MY next-door neighbors also have a ca. read more mphor tree in their front yard, not far from my driveway, and I don't recall EVER seeing berries on/under theirs. However, this could just be due to my lack of proper observation and the fact that their tree is too far from our yard & driveway to receive any berries on our side.

My live oak tree is male so I get tons of pollen and pollen-tassels every spring but (THANKFULLY) never any acorns. Just wondering if camphor is the same way.

On Aug 27, 2010, CactusJake from Mims, FL wrote:

I am so glad someone planted a Camphor tree years before I bought my house. I LOVE it and so do my friends that have one. It is big and as shady as an oak without the spring "oak bloom", acorns and jillions of leaves to rake. The camphor tree is a gentle tree, always a beautiful lively spring green, and does not attract worms or spanish moss (which I am sick to death of pulling off the oak and other trees and shrubs). St. Augustine grass thrives under its shade. It has a beautiful shape and stays green year around when other trees are bear. The leaves are small and blow away a few at a time so that it never needs raking. Some seedlings sprout underneath but I just keep them mowed along with the lawn. I love its color so much that I also planted a hedge with them for a traffic barri. read more er and I keep that cut about 5 ft. tall. It is fluffy and beautiful and helps with the highway dirt and noise. These trees are so bug and spanish moss free I can't imagine anyone not loving them. They also do well in pots and their shiny small leaves are beautiful indoors. I also enjoy the smell when I hit one of the roots while digging. Everyone I know loves their camphor trees as much as I do. The negative comments I read were a shock to me. They must have been written by people who have never had an oak tree.

On Aug 16, 2010, carpediem1 from Oviedo, FL wrote:

WOW, I am shocked to hear such bad things! I just bought this tree over the weekend and planted it, in the middle of my back yard. I went to a local nursery and they raved about it, as my main purpose is a shade tree for the back yard. My main concern was that it would grow quickly and provide shade but nobody mentioned all of the negative things. Its only a couple feet tall and sounded great when I bought it, but now I am concerned. I dont have any other trees in the yard and am not particulary worried about it shedding in the back yard, I hope i made the right choice?

On Aug 4, 2010, MTVineman from Glenwood, MN (Zone 5a) wrote:

I really don't like reading all the negativity about this beautiful tree. I find beauty in all growing things on this planet. I'm sorry it's such a problem for some of you who find it's invasive in your area, but please don't say that this tree should NEVER be sold, period. For someone like me, who lives in the high Rockies of Montana, this is great, kool exotic tree to grow outside in the summer months and bring in, in the cool months. It's obviously not going to be invasive here. I love my Camphor Tree and I love the scent. I would be really irritated if I was unable to purchase one because of someone's bad experience in California. Not surprising somehow though considering that's where the majority of the crappy comments come from. I understand fully, but don't try to make it impossible. read more for the rest of us who live in cool climates to grow and enjoy it. Mine does excellent in it's large container and goes out for the Spring, Summer and early Fall then it comes in for Winter. It has done very well and is a beautiful tree. I highly recommend it to people who live in the same climate as I do. You'll love this tree and the bee's and other beneficial insects will love YOU for planting it or having it outside for them to enjoy. I keep mine trimmed so it doesn't get too big to fit back in the house! It does not seem to mind a bit and I think it actually enjoys it. See the beauty in all living, growing things, please. They are here for a reason. Yes, some can be weedy and irritating but that doesn't mean they should be eradicated from this planet or any other for that matter!

On Apr 23, 2010, KKontheCoast from Brunswick, GA wrote:

Thank goodness for this forum. My neighbor has been trying to give me a camphor tree, a sapling, I presume. I was thinking about it because of the wonderful aroma but there is too much of a downside.

On Mar 13, 2010, purplesun from Krapets,
Bulgaria (Zone 8a) wrote:

This is a very vigorous grower, even when confined to a large container, as mine is. It has tripled in size in just one season, was battered by a hail-storm and spent the winter in a cold corridor. It is shedding some leaves right now, so I guess it is preparing for even more vigorous growth. Sofia, Bulgaria, 2300 feet AMSL, Z 6b.

On Feb 9, 2010, Luckydog69 from Savannah, GA wrote:

Is there any way to stop this tree from producing it's berries? What a mess.

On Oct 3, 2009, silicali01 from Pomona, CA wrote:

These trees were planted by the city long ago. My house is 97 years old. We can't knock down these trees. We will get fined. They do look beautiful but what a mess. They drop leaves, twigs, branches, seeds all year round. Killing our grass. Hard to find plants to grow underneath the tree. I have a wandering jew and violets that seem to be doing okay.

On Mar 13, 2009, village1diot from Vacaville, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is the most beautiful tree in the neighborhood. It's been growing for about 35 years and is the best shade tree ever.

On Feb 18, 2009, janjer1 from Sacramento, CA wrote:

Have a large Camphor in our backyard. This past year - 1/2 of it died. Not sure why - maybe root rot? Really liked the shade - now not sure what to do. 1/2 of the tree is okay. Any idease would be nice. Thanks.

On Nov 18, 2008, Islandherbs from Freeport,
Bahamas wrote:

I ran across this site looking for seeds to plant a camphor tree. The root problems, I wasn't aware of and now I am working on the pro's & con's. I was surprised by the comments. The reasons I wanted this tree was for shade, but more importantly- Cooking, medincinal purposes(internal and external), bug repellant.
Camphor is readily absorbed through the skin and produces a feeling of cooling similar to that of menthol and acts as slight local anesthetic and antimicrobial substance. There are anti-itch gel and cooling gels with camphor as the active ingredient. Camphor is an active ingredient in vapor-steam products, such as Vicks VapoRub, and it is effective as a cough suppressant. It may also be administered orally in small quantities (50 mg) for minor heart symptoms and fatigue. r />

On Apr 25, 2008, maroulaki from Fairfield, CA wrote:

I have several of these trees along my fence. They are moderate growers in California. They do drop leaves all year round and small sticks. They are messy. However I would rather have them than a tree that drops all their leaves at the same time. They do tend to be wasp collectors, so I check the trees often in the summer to make sure that there arn't any wasp nests in them. They are fragrant. Not my favorite scent from a tree but it's ok.

On Jul 23, 2007, tropicaldude from Orlando, FL wrote:

This undesirable tree should not be planted (at least NOT IN FLORIDA), sorry if you are a fan. It's a shame it's sold at places like LOWE'S because it's cheap and grows faster than grass. No, it's not "a native" either. They know clueless people will buy it not knowing this is an invasive, too large for the average yard, hard to remove tree. A good evergreen substitute, native tree that's better looking and cold hardy is the Cherry Laurel.

If it was up to me, unscrupulous establishments in Florida attempting to sell Camphor and Golden Raintree (Koelreuteria) which is another invasive WEED would be hit with a hefty fine. There are plenty of beautiful exotic tree species. Fully grown Camphor trees look like a bad fro' haircut, that alone should make 'em illegal.

/> Lately seen more and more along forest edges growing wild. I sure hope they eradicate them before it's too late. Neighbor has a 6-year old tree -a seedling of another one two houses down- that's already cracked and lifted the concrete where she parks her car. I guess if you want to exercise a lot it's good, you'll never stop pulling seedlings.

A few unhealthy Camphor trees don't grow too large but usually they all get VERY large, some huge like oaks. This tree is somewhat "cute" when young but as it matures most become ugly and the bright green turns to a sick GREEN/BROWN. If you are unlucky to have a neighbor who doesn't care, in no time you'll have a tree that's going to be hard to remove and block the needed light from reaching your fruit trees or warming up your house in the winter. There are too many more attractive and desirable trees for the subtropics.

Please do everyone a favor and don't plant this WEED in warm climates.

On Jun 20, 2007, ebough from Los Altos, CA wrote:

Plants like people have good and bad points. Clearly this tree should not be planted along streets and sidewalks nor in small gardens. In California, it does not grow as fast as in Florida and is resistant to oak-root fungus, a major plus. For warmer climates it is an evergreen treen which is quite handsome year around. It is not nearly as messy as a Eucalyptus for example. In the right setting and the right climate, it is a beautiful tree year around and is extremely hardy.

On Jun 5, 2007, Crystals from Orlando, FL wrote:

Like others have said, this is a very agressive invasive tree. It is a very soft wood and provides good shade, but if i tried to pull up every sapling i'd be busy every day for about an hour or 2. i have three camphor trees in my yard. the saplings get into my beds and try and take over everything and the trees, being rather large, shed alot of leaves all year round [and seeds, too, obviously]. the only things good about them are
1. they provide good shade because they are such fast growers
2. the bend in the florida hurricane winds [but break, too, sometimes!]
3. every year huge flocks of birds come to eat the seeds and the birds are so numerous, it sounds like rain.

On Apr 22, 2007, deekayn from Tweed Coast,
Australia wrote:

Where I live in Australia it is classified as a noxtious weed.
The tree does have a use once cut down, the wood is used to create linen chests as the scent keeps away moths. This practice was started by pioneers and carried on today by industrious individuals who cut down the tree, season the wood and sell the chests at local markets. A very practical use for the tree.

On Mar 25, 2007, chrisw99 from Los Altos, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Big messy tree continually dropping sticks and leaves PLUS it has a mat of invasive fibrous roots. Only vigorous, drought tolerant plants survive beneath it--I have been successful with Helleborus argutifolius or helleborus corsicus and of course, ivy. I am now trying some eurphorbias. I have dug new beds in my garden 20 ft away from the trunk only to find the mesh of these roots invading the beds once they got regular water. The roots smell strongly of camphor so it is easy to id them.

On Dec 19, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Camphor Tree, Camphor Laurel Cinnamomum camphora is naturalized in Texas and other States and is considered an invasive plant in Texas.

On Nov 24, 2006, todster77 from Rockledge, FL wrote:

My near neighbor (zip 32926) has a large shady Camphor Tree along the Indian River of East Central Florida-Sharpes. It smells so good that I was shopping for one myself. until I read other comments on this page. and thank goodness I did as I do not want any part of furthering a "class 1 invasive" in Florida by growing one in my yard. I will visit my wonderful neighbor more often to enjoy this tree from time to time. My first experience on this site has gleaned valuable information. I will mention that this particular tree did very well on direct waterfront through four hurricanes over two years with no visible loss of branches.

On Jun 19, 2006, GardenWytch from Pensacola, FL wrote:

I love this tree. It was about 1 foot tall when I moved into my home. For 3 or 4 years, I pruned it for a bonsai appearance, then I let it go. Now, I have a wonderful shade tree. During hurricane Ivan, I barely lost any leaves and we were on the Eastern (worst) side of the eye. It wasn't until a year after Ivan that I noticed babies finally coming up all over. I've transplanted them all over to take place of the trees I lost in the hurricane and to bring shade to the house to keep it cooler. The leaves make a wonderful sound in the breeze and they never fall off during Winter. My favorite tree. Great shade with no raking.

On May 10, 2006, gooley from Hawthorne, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Officially I am in zone 8b, but these grow only under the canopy cover of big evergreen oaks, live and laurel oaks. I'm on an exposed site and maybe it's a cold microclimate. There are two big ones in nearby Hawthorne, at least: you can see them in the yard of a house off 69th (Lake) Avenue, and you can see that they have been damaged by freezes in the past. They aren't really hardy enough for here, but are still a bit of a pest: a little further south they are ubiquitous and unstoppable. The wood is pretty good as a furnture hardwood owners of big old trees (and they get FAT trunks fairly young, with lots of lumber in them) here or anywhere where the tree is a pest really should have them cut down and sawn into nice, wide boards. Do woodworkers a favor and also kill a source of fres. read more h seeds.

On Oct 23, 2005, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I didn't realize how invasive these trees were until I started thinning the woods on my property. I have found many many saplings and have quite a few larger ones too. They will all be eventually removed. Some people like the smell of the wood, but I personally think it stinks. The dried leaves contain oil and are very flammable.

On May 19, 2005, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

There is NO stopping this tree! I have cut down the larger ones that were in my yard when I bought my property three years ago. They still send up shoots from any portion of the remaining stump or roots. Nearby trees in neighbors' yards and trees growing in the wild send seeds into my yard. Every seed seems to sprout wheresoever it lands.

I had a profusely sprouting stump from a tree I cut down in the area where I wanted to build a pump house. I burned the camphor tree stump for several hours and hacked it with an axe after burning. I used masonite peg board in the floor of the pump house to allow some aeration under it (I designed the pump house to be raised on open cinder blocks so that my toads would have a good winter home -- gotta' help out your friends!). Yes. read more terday, I found sprouts of the thoroughly blackened, massacred camphor tree stump finding their way up from the bowels of darkness through the tiny holes in the masonite peg board! Aaaarrrrggghhh!

Having respect for all living things, I've left one camphor tree stump to sprout where it stands, but I prune it often to keep it about 2 ft high and compact in size and to stop any flowers and seeds from forming. Due to its fast growth, it may have value as a topiary plant if pruned creatively. I've potted up some camphor tree seedlings as an experiment in seeing if they will grow in a confined root space. They will, and tend to grow only as large as the root space will allow, so they may have some use for Bonsai growers.

It seems to me that this would make an excellent, indestructible indoor plant for apartment dwellers since it will grow in deep shade or full sun, survives both drought and overwatering and any other neglect or abuse it may receive, and can be pruned to any size without adverse effects. I'm thinking of starting a business to ship the plants to unsuspecting urban apartment dwellers as an alternative to the ubiquitous Ficus benjamina. I can find a few thousand seedlings in my yard for anyone that wants a camphor tree grove in their condo or apartment.

On May 18, 2005, jnana from South Florida, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

Camphor trees are big trees with dense canopies, they are very brittle and easily damaged during storms and hurricanes. They are listed as a Category I of most invasive plants by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. These trees should not be planted in Florida.

On May 30, 2004, WalterT from San Diego, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

On top of all the negatives about this tree one must say that the fragrance of crushed leaves and cut wood is very pleasant. Here in San Diego it is green all year and sheds leaves, twigs and branches incessantly in great quantities. Very messy. I don't know why the city planted them along the streets!

On May 28, 2004, Jamespayne from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This tree can become the most beautiful tree, with out blooming a flower when planted correctly. All of the negative comments about his tree are true! It can grow into a tree that is massive and beautiful, but it needs thought before planting. In central Florida zone 9, this tree keeps it's leaves on year 'round, and being in a rural area most people have enough yard "space" to plant Camphor Trees. Planted at the end of a property line, or at the entrance of a long drive-way can become very attractive with a Camphor Tree, but they do need the room to grow. I have one in my yard that I prune to so that it does not grow over my home, and I have never heard of this type of Camphor to cause damage from broken limbs. The best part of this type of Camphor is the SHADE! For that reason I h. read more ave this tree in my yard. It can get very hot and humid and dry where I live, and the shade of this tree gives my yard the protection it needs without becoming too dark. On a hot day, the temperature feels ten degrees cooler under a Camphor Tree!

On Mar 31, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

The camphor aroma is good to repel insects and other pests. Thatґs mainly because camphor has carcinogenic elements, and may cause cancer in humans too after long exposures.

On Mar 31, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

The Camphor Tree is a Category I Exotic Pest Plant in Florida. It comes up everywhere. They are more easily disposed of when seedlings. Full grown trees are brittle and large branches can come crashing down. This is true of many fast growing trees. The ripe fruits stain sidewalks and driveways.

On Mar 30, 2004, angelam from melbourne,
Australia wrote:

The tree is a designated weed species through much of Australia. We had one removed 5 years ago and are still getting suckers from roots which weren't removed at the time because of other structures in the soil. Suckering had not been a problem until then. They are very herbicide resistant and manual removal has been all that works. The leaves and wood do smell wonderful however.

On Mar 29, 2004, jetierney from Berkeley, CA wrote:

These trees appear abundantly in Berkeley and El Cerrito, California (Northern Region.) They send a lot of new shoots from the base of the tree each spring. They have created havoc by heaving the sidewalks from root growth and regular (every three years) sidewalks have to be repaired and the roots cut back. They are used as a shade tree on many residential streets. They shed many leaves in the spring and summer. They require frequent thinning and topping to stay out of the electrical wiring and to eliminate dead branches from the bowl of the tree.


How to Prune a Camphor Tree

Camphor trees are slow-growing evergreen specimens that grow 40 to 50 feet high and 50 to 70 feet wide. Its strong branches and thick, wide canopy leave little to no shade underneath this tree. Its tough roots make it invasive in some areas. In a home landscape, camphor trees often begin to overhang roofs and other places they shouldn't. Knowledge of how to prune these trees properly will help you keep one in your lawn without a problem.

Prune the tree in late spring. The camphor is sensitive to cold damage, so do not prune it in winter this would encourage new growth that could not defend itself.

  • Camphor trees are slow-growing evergreen specimens that grow 40 to 50 feet high and 50 to 70 feet wide.
  • In a home landscape, camphor trees often begin to overhang roofs and other places they shouldn't.

Sterilize your pruning shears. Wipe them down with a rag and rubbing alcohol. This will reduce the spread of disease from other plants to your camphor tree.

Cut out weak branches and dead, diseased or crossing branches annually. Also remove any suckers growing from the base of the trunk. Cut right outside the root collar, where the branch attaches to the trunk. This will increase air flow through your camphor tree and ensure it stays healthy.

  • Sterilize your pruning shears.
  • Also remove any suckers growing from the base of the trunk.

Develop a strong trunk when the tree is young. Some will start to grow multi-stemmed trunks, but this detracts from the tree. Choose a central leader and prune all other potential trunks down to the ground.

Develop a strong canopy structure as the tree grows. Choose major branches 18 to 30 inches apart on the trunk. Cut all others right outside the root collar. Do not allow two branches to grow from the same spot.

  • Develop a strong trunk when the tree is young.
  • Choose a central leader and prune all other potential trunks down to the ground.

Trim the canopy when the tree is mature. It will begin to droop as it grows and get in the way of pedestrians or other kinds of traffic. In some cases, with very large trees, you may want to call an arborist. He will be able to trim the canopy and keep the tree even and healthy.


Caring For Camphor Tree - How To Grow Camphor Trees In The Landscape - garden

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Cinnamomum camphora – Camphor Tree

Hardiness zone: 9-11
Evergreen/deciduous: Evergreen
Height: 50-60′
Spread: 50-60′
Sun exposure: Full Sun to Partial Sun
Growth rate: Fast
Foliage: Green
Flower: White
Water usage: Low to Moderate

Native to Eastern Asia, the Camphor Tree forms a large umbrella shaped canopy of glossy evergreen leaves, making it an attractive year round shade and screen tree. Fragrant flowers and small dark fruits attract bees, butterflies and birds. Prized for its hardwood, Camphor Trees have strong sturdy branches and vigorous roots that appreciate ample space to grow. Drought tolerant once established and rated favorably for a fire resistant landscape.


Winter Park will protect prolific camphor trees

For months, Winter Park City Hall has quietly pitted tree huggers against other environmentalists.

At issue: camphor trees, an evergreen with plain looks and leaves that have a sharp odor like cough drops or mothballs.

To scientists worried about humankind trashing the planet, camphors are another in a depressingly long list of foreign invaders that are infiltrating and killing native landscapes.

But to people who simply like big trees -- for their look and ability to calm noisy city streets -- camphors are to be enjoyed. Their view prevails for now.

The Tree Protection Board, updating the city's tree ordinance, stands 3-2 in favor of maintaining camphors as a preferred species that cannot be cut down without a permit.

"They really struggled with it," said Winter Park parks and recreation director John Holland. "I think some of the largest trees in the city are camphors."

But Stephen Pategas, a landscape architect and Tree Protection Board member, says it's wrong to protect camphors because they are an exotic species and grow like weeds in Florida with little threat from disease or predators that might attack native trees.

To make his case, Pategas led a tour of Winter Park's Mead Garden, which bills itself as a "natural historic woodland" and yet is thick with the Asian invaders of all sizes.

"It's just mind-blowing how many camphors there are," Pategas said. "It may be the greatest single species in here."

Winter Park is drawing up plans for remaking Mead Garden. At least some of the camphors, if not all, are expected to get the ax.

Camphors are not illegal to transport or plant. And researchers in Florida don't regard them as the worst environmental spoilers among exotic trees and shrubs.

That distinction belongs to the likes of Brazilian pepper trees, a South American species once popular for residential landscapes and now driving native wildlife and foliage out of Brevard County and elsewhere in Florida. And there is the melaleuca tree, an Australian import that has devoured several hundred thousand acres of the Everglades.

Those invaders have few fans or defenders. But when it comes to how to regard camphors, the choice isn't so clear-cut.

One reason is awareness, or lack of it.

"Sometimes, there's a disconnect between what we do in our yards and what happens in a wilderness," said Kris Serbesoff-King, invasive-species coordinator for the Florida chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, comprising ecologists, parkland managers and other environmental experts, lists camphors as an "invasive" that should never be planted and ought to be cut down and destroyed whenever possible.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences also recommends getting rid of camphors.

"Since camphor trees are easily spread by birds from cultivated yards to open forests, then homeowners will have to join the management effort by removing camphor trees from their property," states the institute's Web site.

One victim of residential camphors is Wekiwa Springs State Park, which is surrounded on three sides by neighborhood landscaping.

Earlier this year, the park got volunteer help from 30 college students, who handpicked camphor seedlings. More than 5,000 were harvested in an area of just 3 acres.

"Once you get a chance to learn about these plants, you get an eye for them and see them everywhere," said park manager John Fillyaw.

Others, including experts on nature and trees, aren't so sure that an all-out chain-saw war should be declared on camphors.

Gary Nichols, in charge of rooting out exotic plants for the St. Johns River Water Management District, has had to eradicate camphors on small tracts of the agency's forests.

"Would I want to do that in a residential area where a tree has been growing for 10 or 15 years?" Nichols asked. "I'd have a problem with that."

Perhaps nowhere have camphors been so painstakingly considered as at Orlando's Harry P. Leu Gardens.

Practically a shrine to all things green and flowering, the garden attraction has gotten rid of many exotic plants in recent years as part of a mission to become more in sync with Florida's natural environment.

"We've taken out perfectly good, beautiful goldenrain trees," said director Robert Bowden, referring to an invasive exotic plant.

Yet Leu Gardens greets visitors with rows of camphors 4 feet in diameter that could date back a century or more. Says the Leu Gardens Web site: "Stroll under the awe-inspiring branches of camphor trees."

"We don't touch them," Bowden said. "That would really alter the integrity of the design."

The future of camphors in Winter Park is up for decision early in 2007 with the City Commission holding public hearings on proposals for updating the tree ordinance.

Pategas said he has counted 16 cities and counties -- from Alachua County to Winter Springs -- that do not protect or that encourage removal of camphors.

"I'm a firm believer in planting the right tree in the right place," said Pategas, who doesn't think all camphors should be cut down right away. "The camphor tree needs to slowly disappear from our landscape and be replaced with appropriate trees."


Watch the video: Facts on the Camphor Tree


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