Camellia is a shrub or small tree grown for its large, lustrous leaves and beautiful flowers in late Fall, Winter and early Spring. Camellia is one of the "Queens" in the flower garden, it prefers cool climate in US zone 7-8 (average minimum temperatures from 0 to 20 F). There are two Camellia species that are widely grown around the world: C. japonica and C. sasanqua. Camellia has a cousin,C. sinensis, and its leaves are widely used to make tea. Camellias are originally from Japan, China, and North Vietnam.
C. japonica has large flower, up to 5 inches across, and bloom in late Winter or early Spring. C. sasanqua plant is relatively smaller than C. japonica, but generally hardier than other species and bloom earlier (late Fall). Leaves and flowers of C. sasanqua are smaller, about 2 inches in diameter. Camellia flowers are semi-double or double forms in shades of white, yellow, pink, rose or purple red. Few cultivars from C. sasanqua are fragrant.
Camellia reticulata (syn. C. heterophylla) is a species of Camellia native to southwestern China, in Yunnan Province. Camellia amplexicaulis is native to Yunan, China and North Vietnam. This plant is very popular in the North Vietnam to display during lunar New year. Camellia chrysantha is a special yellow camellia from Vietnam.
Click thumbnail to see larger pictures. More pictures of Camellia at the Descanso Gardens in the Los Angeles area.