Cinnamomum camphora (L.) J.Presl

Last updated: 29 August 2016

Scientific Name

Cinnamomum camphora (L.) J.Presl


Camphora camphora (L.) H.Karst., Camphora hahnemannii Lukman., Camphora hippocratei Lukman., Camphora officinarum Nees, Camphora vera Raf., Camphorina camphora (L.) Farw., Cinnamomum camphoriferum St.-Lag., Cinnamomum camphoroides Hayata, Cinnamomum nominale (Hats. & Hayata) Hayata, Cinnamomum officinarum Nees ex Steud., Laurus camphora L., Persea camphora (L.) Spreng. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Camphor tree, japanese camphor tree, chinese sassafras [2]
Indonesia Kamper, kapur barus, nanang [2]
Thailand Opchoai-yuan (General); Phromseng (Northern) [2]
Vietnam C[aa]y long n[ax]o. [2]
France Camphrier, laurier à camphre [2]

Geographical Distributions

Cinnamomum camphora occurs naturally in Japan, the Ryukyu Islands, China south of the Yangtze river, Hainan, Taiwan and Vietnam. It is cultivated in many tropical and subtropical countries including South-East Asia. It has become naturalized in Australia, where in wetter areas it is considered a weed. [2]

Botanical Description

C. camphora belongs to the genus Cinnamomum (family Lauraceae).  Large, evergreen, fragrant tree, 15(—30) m tall; root system extensive and shallow; trunk short, stout; bark deeply furrowed; crown spreading, up to 30 m wide; twigs brown, yellowish or pinkish when young, glabrous; buds stout, ovoid, pubescent, with many imbricate scales. [2]

The leaves alternate, aromatic; petiole slender, 1.5—3 cm long; blade broadly ovate-elliptical to oblong-lanceolate, 5—12 cm x 2—7 cm, base obtuse, margin slightly undulate, apex acute or acuminate, chartaceous, deep green, shiny, glabrous above, glabrous or sparsely hairy beneath, with 3 main veins and 2 conspicuous, impressed glands in vein axils, major veins prominent on both sides. [2]

The inflorescence an axillary, many-flowered panicle, up to 7 cm long; pedicel 1—1.5 mm long, glabrous; flowers bisexual, small; perianth tubular, 6-lobed, membranaceous, partly persistent in fruit; lobes ovate, 2.5—3 mm x 1 mm, obtuse, yellowish-green, glabrous outside, pubescent inside, transversely tearing off near the base; fertile stamens 9, in 3 whorls, pubescent; 1st and 2nd whorls eglandular, anthers oblong, 0.5 mm long, introrse; 3rd whorl with 2 subsessile, ovate glands at the base and extrorse anthers; 4th, innermost whorl consisting of 3 eglandular staminodes, ovoid, with short filaments; anthers open upwards by flaps; ovary superior, ovoid, subsessile, glabrous; style up to 2 mm long. [2]

The fruit is a compressed-globose berry, 7—10 mm in diameter, violet-black when ripe, one-seeded. The seed is 6—7 mm in diameter. [2]


Soil Suitability and Climate Requirement

The natural habitat of C. camphora is primary forests, but occasionally it also occurs in open sites, up to 3000 m altitude, though below 1000 m is considered optimal. In West and Cen­tral Java, it is cultivated at 600-1500 m altitude. It flourishes in warm temperate to subtropical cli­mates, but also under tropical highland condi­tions. Mature trees can withstand frost to -5°C, but young trees often succumb to it. In its natural habitat, annual rainfall ranges between 1000­-3500 mm; higher rainfall is tolerated on free draining soils as C. camphora with its shallow root system does not tolerate waterlogging. In ar­eas with very high rainfall or after prolonged peri­ods of very heavy rain, the camphor content of the essential oil is low. Unshaded trees have the high­est essential oil content. Trees growing in the shade and even shaded leaves of a specific tree usually have lower essential oil and camphor con­tents. Fertile, well-drained sandy loams are most suitable for cultivation of C. camphora. Soil type affects both the essential oil content and its com­position. Trees on lighter soils tend to have high­er essential oil content. Neutral to slightly alka­line (pH 6.5-8) soils are preferred for plantations. [2]

Field Preparation

Land Preparation

No documentation

Production of Planting Materials

Propagation of C. camphora is mostly by seed, although propagation by stem and root cuttings and root suckers is also possible. Seed starts to germinate after 3—4 weeks. Seed is normally sown within a few months after collection, as viability after 6 months is usually low. In parts of China with a cold winter, the seed is kept until the following spring. Cleaning and soaking the seed in water for 24 hours improves and hastens germination. Seed is sown in well-prepared and fertilized seedbeds. Germination begins after 3—4 weeks. Seedling plants are ready for transplanting into the field after 12—24 months. Before transplanting they are cut back to 5—10 cm, while in India the roots are also pruned. Planting density is 2000—2500 trees per ha, in some areas even up to 5000 per ha. Where trees are grown for the leaf oil, the chemotype of the planting material is checked by crushing and smelling a leaf. [2]

Field Planting

No documentation

Field maintenance


No documentation

Weed Control

No documentation

Water management

No documentation

Pest and Disease Control

Many diseases and pests that damage cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum J.S. Presl) also affect C. camphora. Diseases generally cause only minor damage. Clitocybe tabescens causing root rot in tropical Asia may affect individual trees. Leaf blight caused by Glomerella cingulata can be controlled to some extent by spraying with a fungicide such as 'benlate'. Acrocercops ordinatellaAttacus atlasEuproctis lunata and Suana concolor are serious leaf pests in most of Asia, as is the camphor silk moth Dictyoploca japonica. Adults and larvae of the cockchafer Leucopholis pinguis cause considerable damage in nurseries in Asia. The weed Cratopus punctum is a serious leaf pest in Mauritius. [2]


 Formerly, wild trees of C. camphora were harvested in a manner similar to timber logging. In plantations, trees are harvested at 16—20-year intervals. Regrowth is normally rapid, as trees coppice readily and vigorously. Plantations to supply leaves are harvested annually in Japan between October and March; in some districts 2 harvests are possible. In India and Sri Lanka up to 4 harvests a year are common. Leaves are generally collected manually, using hand-held strippers or cutters. The feasibility of fully mechanical harvesting is being investigated, but it seems that the shape and the management of the bushes may have to be modified. [2]

Postharvest handling

Camphor oil used to be obtained by reducing the stems to chips, steam distilling of the chipped wood and then filtering the camphor crystals from the oil. The residual oil was then rectified under vacuum, yielding additional 50% camphor, and a camphor-free residual oil. Steam distillation of the leaves to extract camphor was first developed in the United States and was later adopted in Japan and Taiwan, when natural stands of mature C. camphora trees became depleted. [2]

Estimated cost of production

No documentation

Chemical Constituent

C. camphora was found to contain 1-8 cineole, a-pinene, camphor, terpineol, sesqueterpines, linalool. [3][4] Yellow camphor oil contains safrole at 10 to 20%. [4]

Plant Part Used

No documentation

Traditional Use

The leaves, wood and roots of C. camphora yield essential oils whose main component, camphor, was formerly a very important medicine and disinfectant. Industrially it was a raw material for the production of celluloid, explosives and plasticizers. Medicinally, camphor is used mainly in liniments to relieve chest congestion, muscle pains and arthritis. It was also highly regarded as a cardiac and circulatory stimulant. [2]

In traditional medicine it has been an abortifacient, anti-aphrodisiac, contraceptive, cold remedy and suppressor of lactation. It was one of the first antiseptics used in hospitals. [2] Camphor essential oil has shown to be effective in rosacea. [5] Fifteen women suffering from rosacea and twelve controls were administered and oral dose of a formula containing camphor oil, glycerol or metronidazole. After fifteen days, those with the rosacea exhibited symptom improvement without any side effects. [5][6]

Camphor has long been used as an insect repellent, especially of moths in clothing. [2] C. camphora oil showed good repellency against Resseliella oculiperda (known as the red bud borer). [7]

The various essential oils obtained from C. camphora are important in perfumery mainly as sources of specific aroma chemicals, as fixing agents and in scenting soaps. The heaviest fractions are used as drying solvents in paints and lacquers. [2]

The wood is often considered too valuable to be used as timber, except for cabinet work, such as chests for linen and clothes. The fine odour of the wood and the observation that it repelled insects led to the first extraction of the oil. In Australia C. camphora was first introduced as a shade tree in streets and gardens, but has become a weed in wetter areas of Queensland and New South Wales. [2]

Preclinical Data


Anti-inflammatory activity

Camphor essential oil has been used historically to treat inflammatory conditions.  The anti-inflammatory activity is thought to be related to modulation of cytokine, NO and PGE2 production as demonstrated in vitro. Antioxidant activity has also been verified. [8]

Antifungal activity

Camphor oil has strong antifungal activity. Camphor oil has been shown to be a strong fungi-toxicant when used on food commodities. [singh p.] When compared to synthetic food preservatives, camphor essential oil demonstrated comparable results against Aspergillus flavus. [9][10]

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1 Cinnamomum camphora (L.) J.Presl. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 June 27]. Available from:
  2. Windadri FI, Rahayu SSB. Cinnamomum camphora (L.) JS Presl. In: Oyen LPA, Nguyen XD, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 19: Essential-oil plants. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 74-78.
  3. Dung NX, Khien PV, Chien HT, Leclercq PA. The essential oil of Cinnamomum camphora (L.) Sieb. var. linaloolifera from Vietnam . J Essent Oil Res. 1993;5(4):451-453
  4. Tisserand R, Balacs T. Essential oil safety. Toronto: Churchill Livingston; 1995.
  5. El-Shazly AM, Hassan AA, Soliman M, Morsy GH, Morsy TA. Treatment of human Demodex folliculorum by camphor oil and metronidazole. J Egypt Soc Parasitol. 2004;34(1):107-116.
  6. Wu J. Treatment of rosacea with herbal ingredients. J Drugs Dermatol. 2006;5(1):29-32.
  7. Van Tol RW, Swarts HJ, van der Linden A, Visser JH. Repellence of the red bud borer Resseliella oculiperda from grafted apple trees by impregnation of rubber budding strips with essential oils. Pest Manag Sci. 2007;63(5):483-490.
  8. Lee HJ, Hyun EA, Yoon WJ. In vitro anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects of Cinnamomum camphora extracts. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;103(2):208-216.
  9. Singh P, Srivastava B, Kumar A, Dubey NK. Fungal contamination of raw materials of some herbal drugs and recommendation of Cinnamomum camphora oil as herbal fungi toxicant. Microb Ecol. 2008;56(3):555-560.
  10. Mishra AK, Suresh KD, Kishore N, Dubey NK. Fungistatic properties of essential oil of Cinnamomum camphora. Pharma Biol. 1991;29(4):259-262.