Cinnamomum parthenoxylon

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Cinnamomum parthenoxylon
Cinnamomum parthenoxylon.JPG
Cinnamomum parthenoxylon
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Magnoliids
Order: Laurales
Family: Lauraceae
Genus: Cinnamomum
Species: C. parthenoxylon
Binomial name
Cinnamomum parthenoxylon

Cinnamomum parthenoxylon is an evergreen tree in the genus Cinnamomum, 10–20 m (33–66 ft) tall. It is native to South and East Asia (Bhutan, Myanmar, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam).[2] In Vietnam, the tree is considered Critically endangered.[1]

In English, C. parthenoxylon is known as Selasian wood,[3] saffrol laurel,[4] or Martaban camphor wood.[5] It has the outdated heterotypic synonym Laurus porrecta (Roxb.). The species name parthenoxylon derives from parthenos xylon (Greek: παρθενός ξύλον), meaning "virgin wood". The common name in Spanish is alcanforero amarillo[6] ("yellow camphor") and it is thought to be the tree known as Khmer: ម្រះព្រៅភ្នំ (mreah prew phnom).


Trunk and bark

The tree has gray to brown bark. Its leaves are glossy green ovals 7–10 cm long with a point at the end. Like many plants in the Lauraceae, the leaves give off a pleasant smell when crushed. The flowers appear in clusters and are green and very small. The fruits are blackish drupes.[7]

In Indonesia, the flowers of C. parthenoxylon symbolize love and connection between the living and the dead. Traditionally, in the Kudus Regency on the island of Java, the flowers were scattered on tombs by family members.[8]


The aromatic bark of the plant is used for flavoring, not unlike many other Cinnamomum species.[9]

The tree is of special concern, as it is being harvested at a high rate to obtain safrole, a precursor to the pesticide synergist piperonyl butoxide, the flavorant and fragrance piperonal, and the psychoactive drug MDMA. Much of this illicit harvesting is happening in the Cardamom Mountains and Botum Sakor National Park in Cambodia at the moment.[10][11] The documentary film "Forest of ecstasy" (Vanguard 2009) is investigating the subject on location.[12][13]

An extract from the bark has been shown in rats to reduce postprandial hyperglycemia.[14]

Conservation efforts[edit]

In 2004, the Cambodian government classified C. parthenoxylon as a rare species and prohibited any logging of this tree. In addition, the production, import, and export of safrol rich oils has been illegal in Cambodia since 2007.[10]


  1. ^ a b Asian Regional Workshop (1998). "Cinnamomum parthenoxylon". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. Conservation Sustainable Management of Trees, Viet Nam, August 1996. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Xi-wen Li; Jie Li & Henk van der Werff. "Cinnamomum parthenoxylon". Flora of China. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Schimmel (April 1911). Annual Report on Essential Oils, Synthetic Perfumes, &c. p. 43. 
  4. ^ Coster, B (1993). "Diskettes with commercial Woodnames". Tervuren Xylarium Wood Database. Hoofddorp, Holland. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  5. ^ Kurz, Sulpice (1875). Preliminary report on the forest and other vegetation of Pegu. Calcutta: C.B. Lewis, Baptist Mission Press. pp. xcix. 
  6. ^ Porcher, Michel H. (30 April 2007). "Sorting Cinnamomum names". The University of Melbourne. Retrieved 3 December 2009. 
  7. ^ Sánchez de Lorenzo-Cáceres, José Manuel. "Cinnamomum parthenoxylon". Retrieved 3 December 2009. 
  8. ^ Hamdani, Sylviana (27 November 2009). "Five-Star Tradition at Le Meridien Hotel in Jakarta". The Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 3 December 2009. 
  9. ^ Uphof, Johannes Cornelis Theodorus (1968) [1959]. Dictionary of Economic Plants (second ed.). New York, NY: J. Cramer. p. 131. ISBN 9783904144711. OCLC 48693661. 
  10. ^ a b "Strengthening the response Against Exploitation of Forestry Resources through Organized Law Enforcement (SAFROLE)". United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved 18 November 2016. 
  11. ^ Campbell, Sam (30 August 2009). "Harvested to make Ecstasy, Cambodia's trees are felled one by one". GlobalPost. Archived from the original on 7 September 2009. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  12. ^ Adam Yamaguchi, Correspondent; Joanne Shen, Producer; Mike Horn Yasu Tsuji, Editor, eds. (29 October 2009). "Forest of Ecstasy". Vanguard. Season 3. Episode 3. Current TV. Retrieved 8 July 2011.  (Episode is not available. Date: February 2014)
  13. ^ Documentary film: Forest of Ecstasy Adam Yamaguchi (reporter). Vanguard 2009. Hosted by Cambodian Information Center
  14. ^ Jia, Q; Liu X; Wu X; Wang R; Hu X; Li Y; Huang C. (August 2009). "Hypoglycemic activity of a polyphenolic oligomer-rich extract of Cinnamomum parthenoxylon bark in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats". Phytomedicine. Elsevier GmbH. 16 (8): 744–750. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2008.12.012. PMID 19464860. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 

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