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FLIP: Florida Invasive Plants

Cinnamomum camphora

Common Name(s): Camphor tree

Origin

Eastern Asia (China, Korea, Taiwan)

Ecological Impact

Has invaded natural areas such as mesic hammocks, upland pine woods, and scrubland (Langeland and Burks, 1998).  Fruits are spread by animals, water, and gravity.  Listed as a Category I invasive species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC).

Description

An evergreen tree 65 to 100 feet in height with green or reddish green branches. Glossy, green leaves are simple and alternate with smooth, wavy margins that are ovate in shape.  Bark is light grayish brown in color and widely fissured.  Flowers are greenish-white in color and can be seen in May.  They are arranged in loose panicles with 6 petaloid parts.  Fruits are small, rounded drupes that turn black between July and February (Langeland and Burks 1998).

Identification Tips

Leaves and branches give off a strong camphor odor when cut or crushed.  Look for green fruits in June that turn black in summer and fall. Tree bark is light grayish brown and fissured, showing vertical plates as tree ages. May resemble other invasive trees such as Chinese tallow tree (Triadica sebifera) and Carolina laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana) (Miller, Chambliss, and Loewenstein, 2010).

History

Introduced as an ornamental tree in 1727 from China and Taiwan and is toxic to humans in large doses (Miller, Chambliss, and Loewenstein, 2010). Introduced to Florida in 1875 and became established in plantations. Camphor oil can be extracted and wood used for chests, panels, and other cabinet work (Langeland and Burks, 1998).

Florida Range

Central and north Florida, southwestern parts, and a few southeastern counties (Palm Beach, St. Lucie).

Prevention/Management Strategies

Do not plant. Prevent the spreading of fruit by collecting in bags and dispose in household waste. Manually pull seedlings when soil is moist to remove all roots (Miller, Manning ,and Enloe, 2010).

Photos

Most photos courtesy of the Atlas of Florida Plants; click for additional plant details.

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Florida Invasive Plants