Characteristics and care of the camphor tree

The camphor tree is a tree native to the Far East, more specifically from Taiwan, China and Japan. It is a very long-lived tree and in Japan there are the largest and oldest specimens in the world, where they are revered and highly respected. There is a belief that in ancient trees live deities who take care of safety, health and happiness. The oldest known, is in the Hachiman-jinja Shinto temple, in Kagoshima prefecture, they call it Kanou no Ohkusu, it is 30 meters high, its trunk has a diameter of almost 25 meters and it is estimated that it has about 1500 years.

Belonging to the Lauraceae family, its scientific name is  Cinnamomum camphora,  which comes from the Greek word  Kinnamon  which means sweet wood, a name that gives meaning to the wide variety of properties that this magnificent tree possesses.


The camphor tree, also commonly known as the camphor tree , is a fast growing tree It can reach up to 20 meters in height and its leafy canopy and always bright green in color looks majestic in parks and gardens, providing pleasant shady areas to shelter.

It grows healthy in areas with rather mild temperatures , it is a tree that does not tolerate frost well, so in Spain where it is best acclimatized is on the Cantabrian coast and the Mediterranean area.


When they reach maturity, their trunk is majestic and statuesque, covered by a rough , greyish- textured bark that tends to crack in older specimens.

Their roots are mostly shallow and, as in most long-lived trees, they tend to grow quite large, so it is convenient that their final location is away from pipes or structures that could break.


The crown, which reaches a width of up to 7 meters , is leafy and rounded and symmetrical. Its somewhat fragile branches are covered with numerous leaves that are pink when they are born and as they grow they change to a bright green color. They are attached to the stems by means of a petiole and when they get old they turn a deep red color and if you squeeze them between your fingers they give off a pleasant aroma.

They are oval in shape, leathery and pointed, have between 3 and 5 yellowish nerves and are arranged alternately or spirally on the branches.


The camphor tree blooms in spring after 7 years of life. It produces very numerous flowers and, although they are very fragrant, they have little ornamental value since they are very small. They barely measure between 4 and 6 mm and are white.

They are hermaphrodites and pollination occurs thanks to insects, mainly Diptera. The fruits are small reddish berries that turn black as they mature and that keep the seed inside.


Being a large tree, it needs to grow in a garden or in environments with a lot of space . Its care is not very complicated, but you do have to take into account some aspects to be able to enjoy a healthy horse for a long time.


Although when it is very young it can thrive in a large pot or container, it is convenient to transplant it into the ground as soon as possible. It should be outside, in a semi-shady place or preferably in full sun and in areas where there is no frost.


It likes light , fertile soils with good drainage and adapts to any pH. The ideal watering frequency is once a week in winter and every other day in the warmer months, although moderately so as not to flood it.


Since it likes rich soils, we must fertilize it with organic and mineral fertilizers once a month from the beginning of spring to the end of summer. The most recommended are manure, compost or guano.

As for mineral fertilizers, the most recommended for its convenience is to use granulated fertilizers, being recommended the NPK (Mg + S) 12 + 8 + 16 (+ 3 + 25) mixture with magnesium and sulfur, microelements. We will apply at the beginning of spring between 300-500 grams around the trunk , being able to repeat in the middle of summer.


If we have a young specimen in a pot with the intention of transplanting it into a garden area, we must do so in spring and taking special care when handling it so as not to spoil the roots.


As in many other species of plants, the reproduction of the camphor tree can be done in two ways, by means of seeds or by cuttings .

Reproduction by seeds

In a seedbed that we will have filled with humid universal substrate, we will introduce the seed, covering it with a not too thick layer of the same substrate. We will water it frequently to keep the substrate moist, keeping the seedbed in a semi-shady place. When the seed has germinated and the seedling has filled the seedbed with roots, we can transplant it to its final location.

Reproduction by cuttings

For this we will choose a young and healthy branch of about 40 cm long , once cut we will impregnate the cut wound with rooting hormones. We will introduce it into the ground about ten centimeters and after about a month it will begin to root.


Since ancient times, the camphor tree has been used in various ways. Its high-quality wood is used for the manufacture of furniture and cabinetry , but what it is best known for is its essential oils and camphor, a semi-solid substance found in its wood and is extracted by distillation.

It is used as a moth repellent and also in pyrotechnics for brighter fireworks. Also in the production of detergents and lubricants. In perfumery it is an ingredient in some perfumes and in cosmetics it is used in slimming creams.

In medicine it is used topically as it is rapidly absorbed through the skin and ingested it is toxic, it is used as an antitussive, antimicrobial, analgesic and antirheumatic. Camphor alcohol is also obtained from it, which is used as a mouthwash to relieve toothache.

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