Camphor Laurel

Cinnamomum camphora

Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphora) is considered a weed among the Class 4 Noxious Weed (Class 4 policy for Council applicable). Originating in South East Asia this large tree can grow up to 20 metres in high with a large canopy but a short trunk up to 1.5 metres in diameter. The glossy leaves are roughly 10 cm long with browny grey bark. This tree also produces fruit, little round berries that change from green to black when ripe. Small flies can be easily attracted to the small white flowers which grow near the ends of the branches. They grow in areas of high rainfall, invading habitats where rainforests have been cleared or cultivated. It can grow in a wide range of soil types but thrives in fertile flood plains and soils from basalt. Trees can grow to the age of 100, with some being reported 500 years old!

What makes this tree so unappealing is its negative impacts it has on the environment. Having a tendency to create single species communities which excludes other native tree species. Establishment of the tree is a lot more rapid than other vegetation, giving it an advantage over more desirable trees. The seeds are easily spread as birds and other wildlife eat the fruit. The seeds germinate more easily once ingested by the bird. As a result, the trees become established under power lines and along fence lines. As the tree grows and matures it can disrupt power poles, move fences and effect building infrastructure. Over time the trees can develop a large root system which can crack concrete and block drains. Some of the seeds remain usable for up to three years. The seedlings don’t grow quickly until after a year once the root system has been established. Then start the flowering process after around 7 years, depending on location. Parts of the tree are mildly toxic to humans if large quantities are consumed.

The Camphor Laurel tree has a very valuable and usable timber. Producing a rich honey-coloured timber with a fresh camphor smell that is perfect for furniture, carving, and cabinetry. Wonderful for producing fine furniture, by its fine and even texture. Camphor Laurel also produces a camphor smell, which repels against insects and moths. This makes the wood great for clothes storage cabinets. More usages are hand-carved bowls, tables, shelves, kitchen bench tops and decorative veneers.