Know your alien invasive plant: Camphor tree

A Camphor tree. PHOTO:

THIS week, Hillcrest Conservancy takes a look at the Camphor tree, as part of its series of articles on alien invasive plants, to help the community to identify and eradicate them from their gardens.

The Camphor tree’s scientific name is Cinnamomum camphora but it is also known as Camphor laurel, kanferboom (Afrikaans) and ulosilina (isiZulu).

This is another tree which may come as surprise to many residents as I am sure most gardens in the Upper Highway area will have one in their garden or one nearby.

Description: These evergreen trees can grow to a massive 26 metres and have a very dense canopy. It’s tiny greenish-white flowers appear from September to November. It is easily identified by the strong camphor smell when the leaves are crushed. The seeds are blueish-black.

Where does the species come from? This species is originally from East Asia.

What is its invasive status in South Africa? It is a Category 1 plant which must be removed from your garden.

Where in South Africa is it a problem? It is now a problem mainly in KZN and Mpumalanga.

Why is it a problem? Competes with and replaces indigenous plants.

How does it spread? Seed dispersal by birds.

Does the plant have any uses? The timber from this tree is used for furniture.

Contact Ian Pattrick on 079 909 5458 or Hillcrest Conservancy chairman, George Victor, on 073 901 3902 or e-mail

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