- Agriculture, Forestry & Soils
- Field crops, grasses, plant fibers, spices, tree crops, herbs
- Camphor tree
Strausbaugh, Perry D. Formerly, Department of Botany, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Core, Earl L. Formerly, Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Last reviewed:April 2018
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The tree Cinnamomum camphora, a member of the laurel family, from which camphor is extracted. The camphor tree (see illustration) belongs to the Lauraceae (laurel) family of plants in the order Laurales. It is a native species of China, Japan, and Taiwan. The tree grows typically to a height of 12 m (39 ft), is dense-topped, and has shiny, dark, evergreen leaves. It is widely planted as an ornamental tree or a timber tree. The Janka hardness for the wood from the camphor tree is 422 kg-force (930 lb-force); its density is 625 kg/m3 (39 lb/ft3). All parts of the tree contain camphor (a terpene ketone). Camphor oil (an essential oil) is obtained by steam distillation of finely ground wood from the camphor tree. During the distillation process, the crude camphor crystallizes on the surface of the still. After the camphor is removed and refined, it is the commercial gum camphor, which is used in medicines and perfumes, as well as in the manufacture of celluloid and nitrocellulose compounds. See also: Camphor; Essential oils; Forest timber resources; Laurales; Ornamental plants; Tree
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