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Cinnamomum - Growing Guide
Growing Cinnamomum camphora
Commonly known as ‘Camphor Tree’
At Caerhays we grow this attractive evergreen tree alongside a Michelia doltsopa ‘Silver Cloud’. The reason for this is that the crushed leaves of C. camphora smell exactly like the flowers of the michelia. Visitors are asked to put their culinary thinking caps on and decide which spice or cooking scent the michelia flowers remind them of. Genuine cooks usually get it right when they also smell C. camphora. Strangely the elderly pure Michelia doltsopa, which also grows nearby, has a totally different scent to ‘Silver Cloud’.
C. camphora grows with us as a suckering multi stemmed tree to about 20ft in a sheltered glade with dappled shade. It can stand some frost but a cold winter may well cut it back and it will then need a hard pruning to rejuvenate and revive it. Occasionally this may mean ground level although this has not happened for decades here.
The evergreen camphor tree has a spreading habit and ovate very glossy green leaves up to 4in long. The flowers are greenish-yellow in panicles of 2-3in in length and are followed by black berries.
Propagation is possible from semi ripe new growth cuttings with bottom heat. Our plants have not yet produced any viable seed.
This is only a tree for growing in milder locations or as an attractive foliage plant in a larger conservatory. However, crushing the leaves and starting a culinary quiz to identify it may amuse your garden visitors. It is, after all, a culinary plant of economic importance from Japan, China and through to Sri Lanka.