Fruit - raw or cooked. The leaves are used as a condiment in cooked foods. They are a bayleaf substitute but with a much stronger flavour. Used for flavouring soups, stews etc. A tea is obtained from the leaves.A coffee substitute is obtained from the root bark.
The leaves have been hung in bunches to freshen the air. The aroma of the leaves gives some people headaches[K]. An essential oil is obtained from the leaves by steam distillation. Beige and green dyes are obtained from the fruits (used without the seeds). Very aromatic, the dye retains its fragrance for many years.Wood - hard, close grained, heavy, strong, takes a high polish. A beautifully textured wood, it is used for high quality cabinet making, panelling etc.
The leaves are analgesic, antirheumatic, nervine and stomachic. Although the aroma of the leaves is known to cause headaches, they have also been used as an infusion and a poultice to treat this affliction. The leaves are also used internally to treat neuralgia, intestinal cramps and gastro-enteritis. An infusion has been used by women to ease the pains of afterbirth. Externally, an infusion has been used as a bath in the treatment of rheumatism. A decoction of the leaves has been used as a wash on sores and to remove vermin from the head. They are harvested as required and can be used fresh or dried. A poultice of the ground seeds has been used to treat sores.The seeds have been eaten as a stimulant.
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Older plants are hardy to about -15°c when growing in a position that is sheltered from cold drying winds, but young plants require some frost protection. Even mature plants can be damaged in severe winters. The leaves are harvested commercially in California and sold as a bay-leaf substitute. The leaves emit a powerful camphor-like scent when bruised. So strong is the aroma that it can cause headaches and dizziness.A very large and beautiful tree fruited regularly at Kew, producing viable seed, until it was blown down in the severe storms of October 1987[K].
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