The number of studies of tropical tree species that use molecular tools is increasing, most of which collect leaf tissue for genomic DNA extraction. In tropical trees the canopy is not only frequently inaccessible, but also, once reached, the leaf tissue is often heavily defended against herbivory by high concentrations of anti-predation compounds, which may inhibit downstream applications, particularly PCR. Cambium tissue, accessed directly from the tree trunk at ground level, offers a readily accessible resource that is less hampered by the presence of defensive chemicals than leaf tissue. Here we describe a simple method for obtaining tissue from the cambial zone for DNA extraction and test the applicability of the method in a range of tropical tree species. The method was used successfully to extract DNA from 11 species in nine families. A subset of the DNA extracts was tested in more detail and proved to be highly suitable for AFLP analysis.