Borneo Camphor

Seven species of SE Asian rainforest trees belong to this genus. Dryobalanops aromatica (Borneo camphor) has a long history of use in Eastern medicine. It was mentioned by Marco Polo as being exported from N Sumatria and Johore to the Middle East since at least the 6th century CE. Its uses include embalming; organic matter has been found preserved in borneol after 2000 years. Camphor is an aromatic, crystaline substance that forms in cavities in the trunks of trees such as D. aromatica and Cinnamomum camphora (See, camphor). Young trees produce a clear yellow liquid, known as "oil of camphor", which sometimes crystalizes in older specimens. The name, from the Greek drys, "tree", balanos, "acorn", and opsis, "look", refers to the fruits.

Tall evergreen tree with flaking bark and broadly ovate, leathery leaves, 4-6cm (1½-2½in) long. Small white flowers appear in panicles to 7cm (3in) long in summer, every 3-4 years, followed by 3-celled nuts.

Common Name:
Borneo Camphor
Other Names:
Botanical Name:
Dryobalanops aromatica
Native Location:
Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo
Well-drained, moist, sandy soil in sun or partial shade, with high humidity.
By seed sown when ripe at 21°C (70°F).
Camphor crystals are collected from fissures in trunk; oil of camphor by tapping young trees or by distillation of wood. Both crystals and oil are used in capsules, infusions, lotions, pills, powders, and rubbing oils.
40-50m (130-160ft) rarely to 60m (200ft)
15m (50ft)
Min. 15-18°C (59-64°F)
Parts Used:
Camphor crystals, oil.
A bitter, pungent, stimulant herb that relieves pain, lowers fever, relaxes spasms, reduces inflammation, and also has anti-bacterial effects.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for fainting, convulsions associated with high fever, cholera, and pneumonia. Externally for ringworm, rheumatism, abscesses, boils, cold sores, mouth ulcers, sore throat, chest infections, and conjunctivitis. Used in aromatherapy internally and externally as an antiseptic, sedative, and tonic for the heat and adrenal cortex, mainly in skin problems, rheumatism, infectious diseases, depression, and convalescence.
Economic Uses:
Source of d-borneol, a volatile oil used in perfumes with a camphoraceous note. Wood is valued for its resistance to termites.
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited Pg 197