My research has revealed that the camphor tree is considered an alien invader in these parts. They say you shouldn’t plant them. While popular in Asia for certain vague medicinal qualities, here it grows aggressively and tends to crowd out all other native flora. Pondering all these berries I can see why. Anyway, I have now learned that my stately elm is actually a gigantic weed. All part of the rich diversity of Florida, where everything is a mixed blessing at best.
Today was tree-identification day at the Warehouse. The reason is this huge tree out front, which lately has been dropping unsightly black berries by the bushel. These berries stain the walk and the stairs, and crunch underfoot like cockroaches. This morning several hundred robins received word of these berries and have been flocking around ever since. So in addition to the berries I now have a fair amount of bird poop. I suppose I should get out there with a shotgun. But first I had to find out what I was dealing with. Turns out it’s a Cinnamomum camphora, otherwise known as a camphor tree. And here I thought it was some kind of stately elm. I liked this tree because it produces about an acre of shade, and shade is much sought-after in Florida. It’s about 40 feet tall. It has other qualities: Although it’s an evergreen, it drops its waxy little leaves more often than I’d like, and not just in the fall. The leaves have a medicinal smell. They never seem to decompose, so I have to rake up each one by hand.