Characteristics of Camellia Tree (Camellia) in the Wild

Camellia × williamsii
Camellia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. They are native to eastern and southern Asia, from the eastern Himalayas, Japan, and Indonesia. There are about 100-300 species of camellia trees that have been studied and described.

Camellia trees are famous throughout East Asia, they are referred to as Cháhuā in Chinese, Tsubaki in Japanese, Dongbaek-kkot in Korean, and Hoa trà or Hoa chè in Vietnamese.

The Camellia species with the scientific name Camellia sinensis is used to make tea drinks. Meanwhile, Camellia japonica and Camellia sasanqua species are broodstock to create hybrid Camellia species.

Especially for Camellia oleifera, it is a camellia plant that produces oil used for cooking and cosmetics. The oil is named Tsubaki or Tsubaki-abura in Japanese.

Since centuries ago camellia trees were cultivated in China and Japan before they finally spread to Europe and around the world.

German botanist Engelbert Kaempfer reports that the “Japan Rose” (the name for the camellia tree at the time) grew wild, and they had many excellent varieties that could be used as ornamental trees.

One of the most popular and often ornamental camellias is Hybrid Camellia or Camellia × williamsii (a cross between Camellia saluenensis and Camellia japonica). It produces very elegant pink flowers.


Characteristics of Camellia Leaf

Camellia × williamsii Leaf
Source :

The leaves are alternately arranged, simple, thick, serrated, and usually shiny.

Camellia sinensis is preferred for commercial purposes, especially the leaves are extracted to produce tea. However, many other species of camellia can be used to make tea. For example, in some parts of Japan, tea made from Camellia sasanqua leaves, and it is quite popular.


Characteristics of Camellia Flower

Camellia × williamsii Flower
Source : Garin

The flowers are large and have a striking color, between 1-12 cm in diameter, and 5-9 petals. Camellia colors vary widely, but the most common are white and pink.

Yellow camellia is found only in southern China and Vietnam.


Characteristics of Camellia Tree

Camellia × williamsii Tree
Source : (Ellie) Enking

Camellia trees grow to form shrubs or small trees with a maximum height of 15 meters in the wild. However, some varieties of camellia can grow to a fairly large size.

Camellia trees have fast growth. Usually, it grows to about 30 cm per year, although this varies depending on the variety and geographic location they are planted in.

Camellia species are well adapted to humus-rich acid soils, and most species do not thrive in calcareous or calcium-rich soils. Most camellia tree species also need a lot of water, either from natural rain or from irrigation, and most camellia tree species are not resistant to drought.

Due to frequent habitat destruction, several species of camellia are very rare in the wild. One of them is Camellia reticulata, which is now considered an endangered species.


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