Camphor laurel is an evergreen tree that grows in Australia. It grows up to 20m tall with white flowers and leaves that are waxy, glossy and smell of camphor. It originates in Japan, Taiwan and parts of China. Its oil, traditionally made by distilling the wood, has been used since ancient times as a fumigant, and more recently as perfume and cosmetic fragrances, and in household cleaners.
It was brought from Asia to Australia two hundred years ago as an ornamental garden tree and has since become an invasive species. It has prolific seed production and grows rapidly, often producing single-species communities, taking over native vegetation. In northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, along the east coast of Australia, the tree is classified as a weed so is removed and replaced with native trees.
The colour of the wood varies, generally being a rich light brown with a mix of red, honey or dark brown shades and dark streaks. The grain ranges from straight to interlocked and wavy with a natural lustre and smooth feel.
The wood’s distinct camphor fragrance repels moths and insects making it desirable for clothes storage cabinets, and its antibacterial properties make it suitable for cutting boards.
Its distinct appearance, fragrance and workability make camphor laurel a coveted material for woodworkers wanting a decorative timber for furniture, kitchen benchtops and small craft objects. Making beautiful objects by value-adding to this harmful weed is an example of sustainable resource use.