Camellia (pronounced /okayəˈmɛliə/[1] or /okayəˈmliə/[2]) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. They’re chanced on in jap and southern Asia, from the Himalayas east to Japan and Indonesia. There are 100–300 described species, with some controversy over the valid number. There are also round 3,000 hybrids. The genus became as soon as named by Linnaeus after the Jesuit botanist Georg Joseph Kamel, who labored in the Philippines and described a species of camellia (though Linnaeus did no longer focus on to Kamel’s tale when discussing the genus).[3] Camellias are illustrious at some point soon of East Asia; they’re identified as cháhuā (茶花, ‘tea flower’) in Chinese, tsubaki (椿) in Japanese, dongbaek-kkot (동백꽃) in Korean, and as hoa trà or hoa chè in Vietnamese.

Of financial importance in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent, leaves of C. sinensis are processed to create the favorite beverage tea. The ornamental C. japonica, C. sasanqua and their hybrids are the provision of a complete bunch of garden cultivars. C. oleifera produces tea seed oil, mature in cooking and cosmetics.


Leaves of Camellia sinensis, the tea plant

Camellias are evergreen shrubs or tiny timber as much as 20 m (66 toes) expansive. Their leaves are alternately arranged, simple, thick, serrated, and assuredly titillating. Their vegetation are assuredly neat and conspicuous, one to 12 cm in diameter, with five to 9 petals in naturally occurring species of camellias. The colours of the vegetation fluctuate from white thru purple colors to crimson; indubitably yellow vegetation are chanced on handiest in South China and Vietnam. Tea forms are constantly white-flowered. Camellia vegetation at some point soon of the genus are characterized by a dense bouquet of conspicuous yellow stamens, steadily contrasting with the petal colors.[4][5] The so-called “fruit” of camellia plants is a dry pill, assuredly subdivided in as much as five compartments, every compartment containing as much as eight seeds.

The quite quite a bit of species of camellia plants are assuredly successfully-adapted to acid soils rich in humus, and most species make no longer develop successfully on chalky soil or different calcium-rich soils. Most species of camellias also require a neat quantity of water, either from natural rainfall or from irrigation, and the plants won’t tolerate droughts. Nonetheless, just some of the more strange camellias – on the general species from karst soils in Vietnam – can develop with out too noteworthy water.

Camellia plants assuredly like a like a flash development charge. Every infrequently they’ll develop about 30 cm per three hundred and sixty five days till archaic – though this does fluctuate searching on their differ and geographical space.

Camellia plants are mature as food plants by the larvae of a different of Lepidoptera species; witness Checklist of Lepidoptera that feed on Camellia. Leaves of the Japanese camellia (C. japonica) are at likelihood of the fungal parasite Mycelia sterile (witness beneath for the importance).

Use by humans

Camellia reticulata is uncommon in the wild but has been cultivated for a complete bunch of years.

Camellia sinensis, the tea plant, is of predominant commercial importance because tea is made of its leaves. The species C. sinensis is the product of many generations of selective breeding in enlighten to bring out qualities regarded as heavenly for tea. Nonetheless, many diverse camellias would possibly perhaps perhaps also be mature to present a the same beverage. For instance, in some formula of Japan, tea made of C. sasanqua leaves is well-liked.

Tea oil is a candy seasoning and cooking oil made by urgent the seeds of C. oleifera, C. japonica, and to a lesser extent different species corresponding to C. crapnelliana, C. reticulata, C. sasanqua and C. sinensis. Relatively limited-identified outside East Asia, it is the largest cooking oil for a complete bunch of thousands and thousands of folks, particularly in southern China.

Camellia oil is progressively mature to natty and protect the blades of cutting devices.

Camellia oil pressed from seeds of C. japonica, steadily identified as tsubaki oil or tsubaki-abura (椿油) in Japanese, has been historically mature in Japan for hair care.[6]


The camellia parasite fungus mycelia sterile PF1022 produces a metabolite named PF1022A. Right here is mature to present emodepside, an anthelmintic drug.[7]

Primarily attributable to habitat destruction, several camellias like become reasonably uncommon in their natural differ. This type of is the aforementioned C. reticulata, grown commercially in thousands for horticulture and oil manufacturing, but uncommon ample in its natural differ to be regarded as a threatened species.

Fossil file

The earliest fossil file of Camellia are the leaves of †C. abensis from the upper Eocene
of Japan, †C. abchasica from the lower Oligocene of Bulgaria and
C. multiforma from the lower Oligocene of Washington, United States.[8]

Garden history

Camellias had been cultivated in the gardens of China and Japan for centuries sooner than they had been viewed in Europe. The German botanist Engelbert Kaempfer reported[9] that the “Japan Rose”, as he called it, grew wild in woodland and hedgerow, but that many if truth be told handy forms had been chosen for gardens. He became as soon as urged that the plant had 900 names in Japanese. Europeans’ earliest views of camellias will must were their representations in Chinese painted wallpapers, where they had been steadily represented increasing in porcelain pots.

The principle living camellias viewed in England had been a single crimson and a single white, grown and flowered in his garden at Thorndon Hall, Essex, by Robert James, Lord Petre, amongst the keenest gardeners of his skills, in 1739. His gardener James Gordon became as soon as the predominant to introduce camellias to commerce, from the nurseries he established after Lord Petre’s untimely loss of life in 1743, at Mile Discontinue, Essex, device London.[10]

With the expansion of the tea alternate in the later 18th century, new forms started to be viewed in England, imported thru the British East India Company. The Company’s John Slater became as soon as to blame for the predominant of the new camellias, double ones, in white and a striped crimson, imported in 1792. Further camellias imported in the East Indiamen had been related to the patrons whose gardeners grew them: a double crimson for Sir Robert Preston in 1794 and the light purple named “Lady Hume’s Blush” for Amelia, the girl of Sir Abraham Hume of Wormleybury, Hertfordshire (1806). The camellia became as soon as imported from England to The United States in 1797 when Colonel John Stevens brought the flower as fraction of an effort to develop points of interest interior Elysian Fields in Hoboken, Contemporary Jersey.[11] By 1819, twenty-five camellias had bloomed in England; that three hundred and sixty five days the predominant monograph looked, Samuel Curtis’s, A Monograph on the Genus Camellia, whose five heavenly folio colored illustrations like assuredly been removed from the slim text and framed. Camellias that plot seed, though they did no longer flower for more than a decade, rewarded their growers with a wealth of present forms. By the 1840s, the camellia became as soon as on the peak of its style as the luxury flower. The Parisian courtesan Marie Duplessis, who died younger in 1847, inspired Dumas’ La Dame aux camélias and Verdi’s La Traviata.

The smartly-liked imbricated formality of prized camellias became as soon as an component in their decline, modified by the new hothouse orchid. Their revival after World Battle I as woodland shrubs for quiet climates has been paralleled by the upward thrust in status of Camellia sasanqua.

Accepted cultivars

The tea camellia, Camellia sinensis, has many commercial cultivars chosen for the taste of their leaves as soon as processed into tea leaves.

This present day camellias are grown as ornamental plants for his or her vegetation; about 3,000 cultivars and hybrids were chosen, many with double or semi-double vegetation. C. japonica is basically the most prominent species in cultivation, with over 2,000 named cultivars. Subsequent are C. reticulata with over 400 named cultivars, and C. sasanqua with over 300 named cultivars. In style hybrids include C. × hiemalis (C. japonica × C. sasanqua) and C. × williamsii (C. japonica × Camellia saluenensis|C. saluenensis). Some forms can develop to a genuinely in depth measurement, as much as 100 m2, though more compact cultivars are on hand. They’re progressively planted in woodland settings, alongside different calcifuges corresponding to rhododendrons, and are particularly related to areas of high soil acidity, corresponding to Cornwall and Devon in the UK. They’re extremely valued for his or her very early flowering, steadily amongst the predominant vegetation to appear in the slack iciness. Late frosts can hurt the flower buds, ensuing in misshapen vegetation.[12]

There would possibly perhaps be gargantuan differ of flower kinds:

  • single (flat, bowl- or cup-fashioned)
  • semi-double (rows of neat outer petals, with the centre comprising blended petals and stamens)
  • double:
    • paeony make (convex mass of irregular petals and petaloids with hidden stamens)
    • anemone make (loads of rows of outer petals, with blended petaloids and stamens in the centre)
    • rose make (overlapping petals showing stamens in a concave centre when open)
    • formal double (rows of overlapping petals with hidden stamens)

AGM cultivars

The next hybrid cultivars like gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Advantage:

Establish Parentage Height Spread Flower coloration Flower kind Ref.
Cornish Snow cuspidata × saluenensis 2.5 1.5 white single [13]
Cornish Spring cuspidata × japonica 2.5 1.5 purple single [14]
Francie L reticulata × saluenensis 8.0 8.0 rose-purple double [15]
Freedom Bell × williamsii 2.5 2.5 crimson semi-double [16]
Inspiration reticulata × saluenensis 4.0 2.5 rose-purple semi-double [17]
Leonard Messel reticulata × saluenensis 4.0 4.0 rose-purple semi-double [18]
Royalty japonica × reticulata 1.0 1.0 light crimson semi-double [19]
Spring Festival × williamsii, cuspidata 4.0 2.5 purple semi-double [20]
Tom Knudsen japonica × reticulata 2.5 2.5 deep crimson double paeony [21]
Tristrem Carlyon reticulata 4.0 2.5 rose purple double paeony [22]

Cultural significance

Portrait of a Contemporary Zealand suffragette, circa 1880. The sitter wears a white camellia, symbolic of reinforce for advancing ladies folks’s rights.

The Camellia family of plants in well-liked culture.

Further reading

  • More challenging, A.; Holden–Dye, L.; Walker, R. & Wunderlich, F. (2005): Mechanisms of rush of emodepside. Parasitology Research 97(Complement 1): S1-S10. doi: 10.1007/s00436-005-1438-z (HTML summary)

  • Mair, V.; Hoh, E. (2009): The Correct Ancient previous of Tea. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-25146-1.
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