Camphor Tree Guide & 10 Unknown Facts (Leaves, Giant, Florida vs Japanese)

Image of the trunk, branches, and leaves of a Camphor tree in an oval frame on green background.

The magnificent camphor tree is native to China and Japan, boasting several biological and medicinal properties. Thanks to the giant height and evergreen leaves, it’s no wonder many want it growing in their backyards.

But, there are some things you may not know about the Camphor tree. Keep reading to learn more!

Camphor Tree

(Cinnamomum camphora)

A camphor tree with a wide, spreading canopy of lush green leaves viewed from below, set against a bright green oval background.
  • Tree common name: Japanese Camphor, Camphor Tree
  • Family: Lauraceae
  • Genus: Cinnamomum
  • Height: Giant, 40-50 feet
  • Leaf: Ovate, 4-12 cm long, glossy green at the top and dull underneath
  • Seed: Single, tiny, round, inside purple-black fruit
  • Fruit: Spherical, 7-8 mm wide, purple-black when mature
  • Blossoms: Tubular, white-yellowish
  • Bark: Rough texture, shades of dark gray to reddish brown
  • Native habitat: Sub tropics of Eastern Asia
  • Canopy: Forms umbrella shape reaching 50 ft
  • Type: Deciduous

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


Image Credit: Daderot16


If you find the camphor tree fascinating, read on to find out some little-known facts and trace its roots from Asia to its increasing numbers in the United States.

10 Unknown Facts About Camphor Tree Uses

The Camphor tree has become famous for its traditional uses and is still valuable in the modern world.3

You may not know it, but these 10 facts about the Camphor tree might place it in a new light.

  1. Cosmetic factories use it to manufacture fragrances.
  2. It is an ingredient in house cleaning products.
  3. It helps flavor food.
  4. It is handy in analgesics for reducing muscle aches.
  5. It is an enhancer of skin penetration.
  6. It has various biological properties being antiviral, anticancer, and anti-nociceptive.
  7. Other tree species biologically synthesize it for essential oil production.
  8. It has insecticidal and antimicrobial properties.
  9. It is burnt for religious rituals in shrines.
  10. You can plant it for aesthetic reasons, shade, or as a windbreaker.

Types of Camphor Trees (Overview, Description, and Scientific Classification)

From the native Asian regions, Camphor first came to Florida in the late 1800s then spread to other areas due to seed dispersal by birds.2

What Does a Camphor Tree Look Like?

If you see a giant evergreen tree with a massive canopy, strong branches, and several purple-black fruits on the twigs, it is likely a Camphor.

A visual guide for identifying the camphor tree by showing close-up photographs of the small black fruits, rough gray bark, bright green leaves, and a full grown Camphor tree on a green background.

It can grow to a whopping 50-60 feet and features a massive canopy at the top.

The bark is usually rugged, appearing cracked vertically, and the flowers are white and yellow. One of the fastest ways to identify it is by crushing a leaf or ripping a small bark chink and detecting the herbal Camphor smell.6

What Does the Camphor Tree Fruit Look Like?

You will notice a Camphor tree when you look at the fruits. They show up during autumn, and the expansive canopy usually contains thousands of them, proving that it is an invasive species.

They are purple-black, or dark blue, spherical and fleshy with one seed inside, and birds love eating them for their juice, but they are not edible for humans.

What Is the Camphor Tree Growth Rate?

The Camphor tree is one of the fastest-growing invasive species, and if you want to plant one for fencing or shade in your home, you need to know how tall it can get and its growth rate.12

Camphor tree growth chart showing a line graph with Camphor tree age on the x-axis and Camphor tree height on the y-axis.

Once it sprouts, it can grow fast during its first years, but the rate slows down afterward to about 24 inches yearly. It will keep this pace until it reaches the giant mature size at 50 feet or higher.

These trees, if not properly managed, can grow on their own, thus fighting climate change by accident. With this in mind, have you ever thought how many trees are planted each year with the goal of actually helping the environment? It would be awesome living in a city with most trees, or, if I may say, living in a place where people truly intended to plant trees, not only with the idea of improving the environment but also with the primary goal of preventing climate change.

Related Reading:  How Many Trees Offset Carbon Footprint?

How To Make Camphor From Camphor Tree: Manufacture of 4 Essential Oil Grades

Experts extract Camphor Oil by steaming and distilling it from branches, roots, and bark. It undergoes vacuum rectification followed by filter pressing that forms the four versions of essential oil (Yellow, White, Blue, and Brown).8

Photo of several bottles with dipped camphor tree barks inside them as medicine.

(Image: MarlyneArt13)

These oils are vital for therapeutic (medicinal and aromatic) reasons, particularly the White version. The graded oil turns out cleaner, more robust, and highly penetrative, perfect for its medicinal uses.

Where Can You Find Camphor Tree for Sale?

If you love everything about landscaping and are looking for evergreen and lush Camphor trees to plant in your home, there are various online retailers to help.5

They deliver high-quality trees and seeds on time and offer advice on how to make your Camphor thrive. Luckily, it is low maintenance and drought-resistant and stays beautiful all year round, even in humid regions.

Camphor Tree Price and What To Know Before Buying One

You can buy a young Camphor tree or seeds, but the former is preferable since the species can take a long time to grow. Various retailers charge high-quality ones at $79 for a 15-gallon and $199 and $519 for 24 and 36-inch containers, respectively.1

You can use the tree as a privacy hedge around your property, as a picnic shade, or as recreation for climbing or tying swings. The upside is that it is easy to plant and maintain in the long run.

Camphor Tree Symbolism

The Camphor tree is revered in its original habitat and carries a rich history, especially for the Japanese and Chinese.

It is deeply spiritual because it is one of the oldest tree species, dating thousands of years back.

Natives cherish it for its medicinal properties from the camphor oil that helps ease muscle aches and its ability to treat other conditions. Locals also call it the “mysterious” or “stinky” tree, deriving it from its healing features and distinct smell.

You will also find the Camphor near temples where believers assign them spiritual meanings. For instance, old stories state they are home to tree spirits, making them sacred plant species.7

These Camphor trees have played a significant role in shaping our environment since the beginning of time, we can’t help but be grateful for them. Can we use this representation to get inspired to protect the environment? You can start by just asking yourself, “What is my ecological footprint?” You will be able to identify the behaviours through this that may have created a negative impact on our surroundings.

If you wish to take steps like tree planting for carbon offsetting, you might want to look at the best carbon offset programs that meet your needs.

What Are Some Camphor Tree Problems Affecting Its Growth?

Knowing how many trees are cut down each year is disheartening, and if mindful of the global impact of deforestation, you would want to do everything possible to guard your trees.

To grow a Camphor, it is essential to know that pests and diseases are the major factors affecting its survival. Like any other tree of its kind, it is also vulnerable to aphid and mite attacks that suck its juices, causing the leaves to turn yellow.

Secondly, it is hardy but still susceptible to fungi species like Verticillium dahlia and other deadly variations. Consequently, they deny the plant a chance to absorb water, causing wilting and, eventually, death.4

It is also best to ensure that the tree gets all the required nutrients in the right amounts, or the leaves will discolor or fall off. If you want to plant one, it is prudent to regularly look out for tiny pests and any abnormalities and stop them before they damage the tree.

Related Reading: How Many Trees Cut Down Each Year or in 2022? The Deforestation Crisis Explained

Camphor Tree Florida Vs Japanese

Unlike popular belief, the Camphor Tree is not originally from Florida. It is from Asia, and natives introduced it to Florida in 1875 for ornamental purposes and raw material production.

Initially, it was not very profitable for Florida farmers, unlike in Asia, where it was for timber and oil. Currently, experts consider it an invasive species and advise caution when planting it in homes.9

Camphor Tree Disease Prevention: What Can You Do To Keep Your Tree Safe?

It starts with planting the Camphor tree in a suitable environment with the perfect soil pH and mineral content and ensuring it is well-watered. You can also ensure that it has enough room to grow and thrive and gets a lot of sunlight.

Additionally, if you notice leaves and twigs discoloring, you can prevent further disease transmission by pruning out the affected parts. You can also watch out for tiny pests and regularly use insecticides to keep them at bay.

Effective Camphor Balls Uses: How Does It Work?

One of the many uses of Camphor is that it is a critical ingredient in manufacturing pesticides. When created into a ball and mixed with other chemicals, you can use it in your closet to protect your clothes from moths.

When the gas from the balls evaporates, they emit fumes that repel insects and their larvae, keeping the clothes you rarely wear safe all year round. The key is to handle the balls correctly, air the clothes for at least a day before wearing them, and wash them to remove the smell.

What Are the Camphor Uses and Benefits?

Here are some of the common uses and benefits of Camphor.

  • Skin

Camphor’s antifungal properties make it an excellent ingredient for body creams to help ease skin irritation and make it look better. It can relieve wounds and is used in anti-aging cosmetics thanks to its collagen and elastin production.

  • Pain Relief

Sprays containing menthol, Camphor, and some essential oils can effectively ease the pain because of the tree’s anti-inflammatory features. You can apply it on your joints, back, or any other affected body part regularly, and you will notice the cooling or tingling sensation in each application.

  • Arthritis Treatment

Camphor is a highly recommended product for arthritis patients as it helps relieve pain and swelling; using it several times daily will significantly impact your general health.

  • Treatment of Toenail Fungus

Creams containing Camphor are also effective in treating fungus conditions, and manufacturers include it in their ointments. You will notice positive results in weeks when you regularly apply it to the affected area.

  • Treatment of Respiratory Tract Issues

Patients with sleeping difficulties and those experiencing night coughs and congestion can use Camphor’s vapor to help clear their respiratory systems. When Camphor steams, it passes through the airways and effectively clears out the chest.

  • Other Uses

Besides the above, Camphor is also vital for treating conditions like earaches, acne, hair loss, heart disease, depression, low libido, and several other problems.

How To Make Camphor Oil at Home

Manufacturers use their advanced equipment to extract Camphor oil from the tree and package it in bottles as essential oils or powdered and crystal forms.10 The powder version is not applicable directly for personal use at home for pain relief or other treatments.

However, you can liquify it using simple tools; if you have coconut oil, you can warm it and dissolve the Camphor, stirring to break down all the solid particles. You can pour it into a bottle when it melts, making it easier to apply daily.

How To Use Camphor for Cold as a First-time User

You can also use Camphor tree extracts to relieve cold, congestion, and other respiratory issues, and there are two ways to do it based on age and your preferences. You can mix the balls or crystals in warm coconut oil for babies and kids to form one solution.

Once dissolved, apply a small amount on the chest, back, and behind the ears; doing this and covering the body with a cloth enables better and safer inhalation of the fumes. On the other hand, adults can dissolve it in boiling water and inhale the steam into the respiratory system.

How To Use Camphor for Skin and Precautions To Take

Camphor is an essential ingredient for lotions and creams that help treat skin issues like acne, itching, irritation, and burns, but it is only effective when you use it correctly. You should apply it severally every day on the affected part and according to the instructions on the label.

However, be careful not to use it on open wounds and confirm that you are not allergic to it. You can do a patch test if using it for the first time, watch out for redness or rashes, and remember to wash your hands after handling it.

What Does Camphor Tree Smell Like? (What Does Camphor Smell Like)

If you inhale Camphor for the first time, you can never forget it or mistake it for another scent. Like other plant species used for their aroma, Camphor has a distinct (but not irritating) smell that many describe as earthy, partially woody, musty, and spicy.

You will also notice that it resembles the mothball/ naphthalene smell because it is one of its ingredients. You don’t have to worry about using it if you are sensitive to scents since you won’t find it too strong.

Is Camphor Safe for Babies To Inhale? Should You Be Worried About Using It on a Baby?

Camphor is safe to inhale for everyone, but it may harm babies if used in excess. Given its highly penetrative and quick absorbing properties, it is advisable to use it in small doses when applying it to babies for treatments like cold relief.

Inhaling limited amounts is fine, but babies ingesting it can be fatal; therefore, it is best to keep it away from children.11 It is poisonous when it gets into the digestive system, leading to severe illnesses or death in extreme cases. That is the reason why it might be considered one of the dangerous trees.

Camphor Benefits for Skin: Antibacterial and Anti-Aging Properties

  1. The antiseptic nature makes it the perfect ingredient in creams for acne and treatment of skin complications, as it reduces inflammation and kills the bacteria responsible for skin breakouts.
  2. It helps soothe and reduce skin irritation, manage itching and cure fungal infections.
  3. You can apply it on cracked heels to kill dead cells and make your feet feel smooth and rejuvenated.
  4. Anti-aging cream manufacturers employ elastin for the user’s skin to look and feel younger.
  5. Camphor use on skin burns can relieve the pain and improve healing, giving the user a cooling sensation when applied.

What Are The Symptoms of a Dying Camphor Tree?

You can tell something is wrong with your Camphor Tree by looking at the leaves, branches, and bark. It is susceptible to Verticillium wilt, whose symptoms include death or discoloration of the twigs and leaves.

Close photo of camphor tree branch and leaves.

(Image: CN_CN14)

These indicators are common, especially after winter or if the plant is living in unfavorable conditions. In most cases, the mature tree outgrows the disease and survives, but it is still possible to die.

How To Stop Camphor Tree Berries (Managing The Invasive Species)

The Camphor Tree is a fast-growing giant species whose canopy can expand to almost twice its height. It means that it produces thousands of seeds that fall in hundreds to the ground daily, making it dangerously invasive.

One method to stop falling berries from growing is frequently mowing the land to eliminate the seedlings. Pruning the twigs may also reduce the number of berries on the tree, and remember to check for fallen fruits every day and remove them before it’s too late.

How To Use Camphor Leaves for Home Treatment

The Camphor Tree leaves and bark are essential components in manufacturing essential treatment oils. Using regular everyday items, you can also make ointments using the leaves from your Camphor.

Close photo of camphor tree leaf.

(Image: SIXTY15)

You only have to crush them into a paste and mix them with other oils, preferably coconut, for personal use. You can also do the same with Camphor balls or crystals and make creams for your medicinal needs.

How To Make Camphor Oil From Leaves and How To Use It at Home

The best part about owning a herb at home is that you can use it whenever you want and don’t have to spend a penny to buy refined versions. You can pluck the leaves from your Camphor tree, crush them to extract the juices, and mix them with your favorite cream before use.

You can blend it with coconut oil and use it daily for pain relief or treatment of skin complications. You can also steam the extract in hot water and inhale it to remedy coughs, colds, and other respiratory issues.

What Are the Camphor Tree Pros and Con’s?

Camphor extracts have various medicinal and aesthetic properties. It is anti-inflammatory, relieving pain and swelling, and it is antiseptic, hence vital in healing skin complications like acne and irritation.

The herb also aids in easing respiratory issues like coughs, colds, and congestion. On the downside, the extract can be irritating when applied to open wounds, and you should consume it in small amounts, or you may suffer from Camphor poisoning.

The symptoms include vomiting, nausea, and a burning feeling in the throat. Therefore, it is best to keep it away from children who may accidentally ingest it.

Should You Buy Camphor Tree Seeds or Grown Trees?

An age-old question in the wake of climate change is can we live without trees? How our worst fears are becoming a reality now that the forest cover is gradually declining. One way to help is to buy seeds and seedlings to plant in homes.

Camphor seeds are cheaper than grown trees, but they are not for you if you are impatient for the tree to grow and mature. The seeds may take a while to germinate, and sometimes the environmental conditions do not fully support their growth.

Otherwise, buying a tree simplifies the entire process since you don’t have to wait for germination, and you are sure your Camphor will grow to maturity. The best way is to weigh the options before buying seeds or a tree.

The Camphor is ideal if you are looking for an aesthetic giant evergreen tree. Its massive height and canopy make it stand out, and the best part is that it has therapeutic uses. You can apply it to help relieve pain and cure skin conditions like fungi infections and breakouts.

It is also vital for other medicinal purposes like battling colds, hair loss, and heart diseases. Therefore, you can reap several benefits from Camphor tree while engaging in planting projects to help in reforestation efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions About Camphor Tree

Is the Camphor Tree the Oldest Tree in the World?

Although there are older tree species worldwide, the giant Camphor is on the list of the longest-living trees, with a particular one in Takeo Shrine estimated at 3000 years old and the sixth largest in Japan.

Is There a New Camphor Tree in India?

Researchers Mr. Sujanapal, Mr. Udayan, and Mr. Robi identified a new Camphor tree species in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam from Kerala districts and recorded it. They reported it from the south Western Ghats in Agasthyamalai Hills and is now called the Cinnamomum agasthyamalayanum Robi, Sujanapal & Udayan.

Is the Camphor Tree Root System Dangerous?

Given the giant nature of the tree and how massive the leaves can extend, the roots are equally enormous to accommodate the other plant parts. It should always be at a safe distance when you want it in your backyard; otherwise, it can block drains and damage pavements as it grows.

What Are The Camphor Tree Root Problems?

One of the disadvantages of Camphor growing in the wrong place is that the shallow roots and massive canopy block the underlying plants, which suffer from lack of sunlight and lack space in the soil to thrive. Its invasive properties explain why you should always be careful to check that the falling fruits don’t lead to more Camphor tree germination.

Do Camphor Trees Lose Their Leaves Seasonally?

The Camphor is evergreen, but like most plant species, it also drops its leaves during spring as the flowers fall later. Therefore, if you plan to plant one in your yard, remember to do so where you won’t keep dealing with littering.


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13Photo by MarlyneArt. Resized and changed format. Pixabay. Retrieved April 3, 2023, from <>

14Photo by CN_CN . Resized and changed format. Pixabay. Retrieved April 3, 2023, from <>

15Photo by SIXTY. Resized and changed format. Pixabay. Retrieved April 3, 2023,  from <>

16Cinnamomum camphora – Quinta das Lágrimas – Coimbra, Portugal – DSC08714 Photo by Daderot. (2019, November 4) / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved January 16, 2024, from <ágrimas_-_Coimbra,_Portugal_-_DSC08714.jpg>