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Cinnamomum camphora is a tree that has been used
extensively along the eastern coast of N.S.W. in gardens, parks and school grounds.
It is native to China and Japan. Camphor was
extracted from the leaves and used in medicines and mothballs up until the 1920's, when
camphor oil was produced artificially.
Although it is attractive and can be a valued
shade tree, it has adapted to our conditions TOO WELL.
It is now causing serious problems in our
bushland, rural areas, waterways and also in urban areas.
Chemicals produced by the camphor laurel can
poison fishlings and other water life.
Did you know - a camphor laurel tree can
live for 500 years?
How do you recognise a
camphor laurel tree?
The camphor laurel -
an evergreen tree with bright green foliage in Spring,
to a large spreading tree which can reach 20 metres in height, often twice as wide as it
glossy green leaves on top, the under side has a blue/green colour with a waxy bloom,
rough greyish bark featuring prominent vertical cracks,
small white flowers in Spring followed by many green, pea sized fruit turning black when
ripe in April-June.
leaves produce the characteristic camphor smell.
seedlings can be recognised by their red stems and 3 veined leaves
Why has the camphor
laurel tree become a pest?
This tree is a prolific producer of seed. Some birds feed on these seeds, which
then germinate readily.
Growing in suburban backyards, its massive root
structure can cause serious damage to concrete structures and block drains.
In bushland areas it often competes with, and
displaces native trees and other vegetation.
In these conditions it can develop into a single species community, depriving many birds
and animals of their natural food supply.
Do you need permission to remove camphor laurels?
You do NOT need permission to remove a camphor
laurel tree from the local Government areas of Gosford, Wyong, Lake Macquarie and Cessnock
UNLESS it is growing within 20m of a prescribed stream. Not all waterways are prescribed
streams. If in doubt, contact the Infrastructure Planning & Natural Resources.
Do you need help
identifying a camphor laurel?
Some native plants may be mistaken for camphor
If in doubt take a sample of fresh plant material,
including several leaves on a stem, together with the fruit if possible.
Place the sample in a bag with your contact name
and phone number clearly marked and forward it to your local Council's Weeds Officer or
show the plant sample to your local plant nursery for identification.
Checklist before removing
1. Make sure you properly identify the tree.
2. If using a tree contractor, ensure they have adequate insurance.
3. Is the timber useable? Check with your local wood turners association.
4. Consider replacement plants.
How can I remove
Hand pull small seedlings.
Use glyphosate based herbicides. When used in
accordance with the label directions, glyphosate herbicides are considered to be of low
risk to persons, animals and the environment.
Always use herbicides strictly in accordance with the
Protect non-target plants from spray-drift.
To be most effective, do not use chemicals before, during or
straight after rain.
Herbicides are most effective on new active growth.
Spray only on a calm day.
Use a marker dye; such as food colouring, in the herbicide to
alert others that poison has been used.
Get it right the first time as it will be harder to control the
second time around.
You may need professional help to remove trees.
Some common situations from which
camphor laurel may need to be removed.
Camphor laurel growing on cleared sites in
rural, residential or industrial areas.
Seedlings that cannot be pulled by hand can be
foliar sprayed with glyphosate based herbicide.
Semi-mature to mature trees can be felled by a
chainsaw and cut/stump painted.(see diagram)
Machinery such as stump grinders and excavators
can be used to remove stumps or rootballs.
Camphor laurel growing in
Aim to encourage native regeneration and
discourage weed invasion. This can be achieved by minimising soil disturbance and working
progressively from the lowest weed density to the highest weed density.
Immature trees to 4 metres can be treated using
one of the methods described below.
In isolated bushland areas, trees can be treated
and left standing. Birds will use the dead trees as roosting sites and disseminate native
seeds around the base of the trees and encourage natural regeneration. However, be aware
that there is a risk of brittle timber from dead trees falling, possibly causing harm to
persons, property or livestock.
Consider replacement plants where there is poor
prospect for natural regeneration to occur.
Camphor laurel within the
felling distance of homes orother property assets.
In this situation you will require professional
The felling of trees in confined spaces is a
high risk activity, which may
involve the use of advanced climbing and roping techniques. There could be personal injury
or extensive property damage.
Selecting a tree
A tree contractor must -
have insurance covering public liability and
workers compensation, which you should sight
comply with any industry standards.
Camphor laurel as a
Camphor laurel is a timber often sought by wood
turners for their craft.
Local wood turners may be interested in using all
or part of the felled tree, preferably trees that have a diameter at the base of greater
Contact your local council for the names of local
control Camphor Laurels
The aim is to place a herbicide into the transport
system of the plant. This is known as the sapwood and is located 3-5cm deep in the trunk.
Follow up treatment may be needed for any signs of
This method can only be used for seedlings.
Wait for rain to moisten the soil around the seedling.
Use a fork to loosen the soil around the plant roots.
Take a firm grip of the plant near the ground and pull firmly.
Green Stem Painting (Basal Barking)
Consult your local Council Weeds Officer for registered herbicides suitable for green stem
To be used for saplings up to 10cm diameter.
Clear vegetation around the base of the sapling to maximise coverage of spray.
At a height of about 30cm, paint, wipe or spray the herbicide on
at least 30 cm of the green section
of the trunk to the point of runoff.
Avoid damage to desirable plants caused by herbicide drift.
Cut the plant as close as possible to the ground.
Use a paintbrush, a spot gun applicator, eye-
dropper or syringe to apply the undiluted herbicide around the outer rim (sapwood) of the
The herbicide must be applied while the sap is
still flowing. If the delay in application is longer than about 30 seconds, re-cut and
paint the fresh wound.
On multiple stemmed trees, all trunks must be
1. Using a cordless drill or a brace and bit, drill holes in a
ring around the tree approx. 5 to 10cm apart and 3-5cm deep.
2. Do not drill into the heartwood or middle of the tree.
3. Holes should be drilled as low on the trunk or stem as
4. Inject the herbicide into the holes.
On multiple stemmed trees all stems
must be treated.
Use a small axe or a mallet and sharp chisel to
cut pockets around the trunk as low to the ground as possible and approx. 15cm
Take care not to ringbark the tree, as the herbicide
will not be circulated.
Pockets should penetrate the trunk to a depth to
reach the sapwood and angled downwards to enable the herbicide to pool.
Inject approx. 2ml of undiluted herbicide into
each pocket within 30 seconds of making the cut.
On multiple trunked plants, all stems must be
for Camphor Laurels
There are many Australian native
plants available at your local nursery that will provide all the benefits of camphor
laurels without causing the damage.