Cinnamomum camphora, seeds
Cinnamomum camphora belongs to the family of the Lauraceae. It is also known as camphor
tree. It is native to China and Japan. 1975 it was introduced to Florida where it grew very well
and spread over a great distance. Today C. camphora is seen as invasive species in Florida
and people fight the distribution.
C. camphora is an evergreen tree that can reach a height of 30 to 50 m. It can get over 2000
years old. It branches a lot and builds up big treetops. The trunk reaches 3 to 5 m in diameter.
The leaves are leathery, ovate to elliptic and alternate at the branches. They can get 6 to 12 cm
long and 2, 5 to 5, 5 cm wide. The petiole is 2 to 3 cm long. The venation is clearly visible.
The young leaves can be cooked and eaten. The old leaves can be used as spice. But one has
to be careful because high doses can be toxic.
The flowers stand in panicles. They are 3 mm small and greenish, whitish to yellowish. The
flowers are hermaphrodites. Corolla and Calyx can be pubescent.
The fruit is small and dark purple to black. It reaches 6 to 8 cm in diameter and is nearly
round. It is not eatable.
All parts of the tree smell like camphor. Camphor is a colorless solid with aromatic odor. The
wood of the tree is used to make camphor oil. This oil does not include camphor but cineol
that smells just like camphor. The wood of the tree is also used for building furniture. The
more downwards one goes on the trunk the more camphor is included.
In medicine camphor is used against inflammation, it has also an antispasmodic and digestive
effect. It has also a positive effect on the nervous system. In the 9th century camphor was used
as an aphrodisiac in Asia. Camphor can also be used to get rid of moths.
C. camphora likes sandy soils. It tolerates a pH between 4, 3 and 8. Camphor seeds are dormant and need some pretreatment and time to break their dormancy: First thing that should be done is cleaning the seeds. Pulp should be removed and they should be soaked in water for 48 hours. Now they have to be mixed with some moist substrate and be placed into the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks before planting. They have to be hold moist in the fridge. Then C. camphora should be sown about 1-2cm deep and placed warm and sunny (20 to 25 °C). The soil should be kept moist but not wet. Now it will take about 2-3 months until seeds are starting to sprout.
Even as an adult, C. camphor does not like wet soils. The germination time varies much.
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