Camphor laurel trees – a common sight but a pest
The smell of camphor reminds many of us of being sick as a child, when our parents would give us a piece of camphor wood to take to bed. The aromatic smell of the wood is pleasant, and also repels bugs, which is why it is used for storage boxes. However, this native of China, Japan and Taiwan is an introduced pest, and has been declared a weed by local councils and the Queensland Government.
The camphor laurel is commonly seen around coastal south-east Queensland. It creates a dense canopy and competes with natives, especially in moist gullies and near waterways. It is thus a major pest. Camphor laurels are aggressively replacing native blue gums, one of the favourite food trees of the koala, around south-east Queensland waterways.
Description of camphor laurel
The camphor laurel is an evergreen large spreading tree that often grows up to 15 or even 30 metres in height. Its glossy green leaves give off the distinctive camphor smell when crushed. It flowers in spring and summer, with whitish coloured blooms in branched clusters at the tips of the branches. The flowers become round fruit up to 10mm across that turn from green to glossy black as they mature.
What to do about camphor laurels on your property
This pest tree will often be found in neglected areas near habitation and by the sides of roads. It has been classified by the state government as a Category 3 pest, which means that it must not be distributed or disposed except as authorised in a regulation or under a permit. Do not attempt to cut down or mulch a camphor laurel if you find one on your land – this can readily aid its dispersal.