Cinnamomum camphora: Wikis


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For the Australian tree also known as Camphorwood, see Cinnamomum oliveri.
Camphor Laurel
An ancient camphor tree, estimated to be over 1000 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 a 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.


Name in other languages

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 (A.D. 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) in India where it is known as Pachha Karpooram (literally meaning "green camphor" though "Pachha" in Tamil can also be translated to mean "raw" which is "Pachha Karpooram's" intended meaning)in kannada its called karpoora . 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 for performing aarti. This type of camphor is also sold at Indian grocery stores but it is not suitable for cooking. The only type that should be used for food are those which are labeled as "Edible Camphor".

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.

Camphor laurel in Australia

C camphora in the public Botanic Gardens in Adelaide, South Australia

Cinnamomum camphora was introduced to Australia in 1822 as an ornamental tree for use in gardens and public parks, and is commonly called Camphor laurel there. It has become a weed throughout Queensland and central to northern New South Wales where it is suited to the wet, subtropical climate.

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 pastures, and also competes against eucalyptus trees which are the sole food source of koalas, which are endangered in many parts of eastern Australia.


Propagate by seed. USDA Hardiness Zone[4] 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.[5]

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. [6][7] The cineole fraction of camphor laurel is used in China to manufacture fake "Eucalyptus oil".[8]

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. ie, Cinnamonum 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 Cinnamonum 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. [9]

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. ^ USDA Hardiness Zone
  5. ^ E.F. Gilman & D.G. Watson Fact Sheet ST-167 Cinnamomum Camphora Nov. 1993
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Lawrence, B. M., 1995. ‘Progress in essential oils’, Perfumer and Flavorist, 20, 29-41.
  8. ^ Ashurst, P.R., Food Flavorings, 1999, [1]
  9. ^ Behra, Burfield,

External links



Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Cinnamomum camphora


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Ordo: Laurales
Familia: Lauraceae
Genus: Cinnamomum
Species: Cinnamomum camphora


Cinnamomum camphora (L.) J.Presl


  • F. Berchtold & J. S. Presl, Prir. rostlin 2:36, 47-56, t. 8. 1825
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. [1]
  • Cinnamomum camphora (L.) J. Presl Report on ITIS

Vernacular names

Afrikaans: kanferboom
Deutsch: Kampferbaum
Ελληνικά: Καμφορά
English: Camphor tree, Camphorwood, Camphor laurel
Français: camphrier
한국어: 녹나무
Italiano: Canfora
日本語: クスノキ(樟、楠)
Русский: Камфорное дерево, камфорный лавр
Svenska: Kamferträd
Türkçe: Kafur ağacı
中文: 樟树, 本樟, 香樟, 鸟樟, 栳樟, 樟仔
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Category:Cinnamomum camphora on Wikimedia Commons.


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