Botanist's Glossary

Camphor Tree - Cinnamomum camphora

  • Description
    • The camphor tree (Lauraceae family, the laurel family) is a truly majestic tree. Some are said to be thousands of years old and have grown to a height of 50 meters in the birthplace of the species: China, Taiwan and Japan - where the tree has long been cultivated. The evergreen leaves, which have a glossy appearance and smell of camphor when crushed, are reminiscent of the leaves of a bay tree, but with a more pointed shape.
  • Traditions
    • Camphor has been used in the Far East for many centuries. It was introduced into Europe by the Arabs, who knew how to purify it through "sublimation". They attributed it with many medicinal properties. At the time, it was a rare perfume. Natural camphor is a pearly white, solid crystalline substance that is made when the essential oil in old parts of the wood hardens. This substance, which has a strong, penetrating scent and then gives a feeling of freshness, was extremely popular in 19th-century western medicine.
  • Properties
    • Camphor essential oil is distilled from the wood or the leaves of the tree. Camphor essence has cardioactive properties, is a respiratory stimulant, and eases rheumatic pain. It has a general energizing effect and should only be used in small amounts.