Camphor Tree

Shiny leaves and large black berries
The distinctive shiny foliage and black berries of a camphor tree.
Photo: Peter Woodard.
Big red button that reads Invasive, No Uses

Camphor tree is an invasive species in North and Central Florida. Native to China and Japan, Cinnamomum camphora is easily recognizable by the smell of camphor its shiny green leaves give when crushed.

Camphor trees have a fast growth rate and the ability to produce large amounts of shiny black berries, which are readily eaten by birds, spreading the seed. The Florida jujube, Ziziphus celata, is an endangered native species found in Central Florida that is being pushed out by this invasive.

The UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas has identified this tree as invasive in North and Central Florida and does not recommend planting, and as a “caution” species for South Florida, meaning that existing camphor trees in the landscape should be managed in order to prevent escape.

This large, round-canopied, evergreen tree has broad, unusually strong branches, and can reach seventy feet in height.

A quick method for identifying camphor is by crushing the leaves or peeling a twig or piece of bark. This releases oils and the scent of camphor. Don’t confuse it with the native red bay which smells similar.

Mowing can be an effective means of killing the seedling trees. Herbicides are an effective control method for trees and stumps. If you live in North or Central Florida, take notice of this tree and remove it from your landscape.

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