Tarchonanthus camphoratus, the camphor bush, is a shrub or small tree in the Asteraceae family (SA Tree List No. 733). All parts of the tree exude a strong smell of camphor.
The bark is grey, furrowed, rough and tends to peel in strips. The leaves are narrowly lanceolate with entire margins. They are wavy and have a soft texture. Young growth and the lower surfaces of leaves are densely covered in cream coloured, velvety hairs. The dioecious species produces male and female flowers on different trees. The flowers appear in massed terminal sprays.
T. camphoratus grows almost throughout South Africa and in many parts of Africa, adapted to a very wide range of conditions. These habitats include forest, grassland, bushveld and semi-desert on flats, rocky slopes and streamsides. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century.
It is also a truly African tree. It shares its Kikuyu name, kileleshwa, with the eponymous district of Nairobi in Kenya (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Noad and Birnie, 1989; http://redlist.sanbi.org).