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Camellia

Camellia (Tsubaki
Camellia Herb
in Japanese) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae, native to eastern and southern Asia from the Himalaya east to Japan and Indonesia. There is some controversy over the number of extant species, with anything from 100250 species being accepted.

They are evergreen shrubs and small trees from 220 m tall. The leaves are alternately arranged, simple, thick, serrated, usually glossy, and 317 cm long. The flowers are large and conspicuous, 112 cm diameter, with (in natural conditions) 59 petals; colour varies from white to pink and red, and yellow in a few species. The fruit is a dry capsule subdivided into 15 compartments, each containing 18 seeds.

The genus is generally adapted to acidic soils, and does not grow well on chalk or other calcium-rich soils. Most species also have a high rainfall requirement and will not tolerate drought.

Camellia species are used as food plants by the larvae of a number of Lepidoptera species - see list of Lepidoptera which feed on Camellia.

Cultivation and uses
Camellia sinensis is of major commercial importance because tea is made from its leaves. Tea oil is a sweet seasoning and cooking oil made by pressing the seeds of Camellia sinensis or Camellia oleifera.

Many other camellias are grown as ornamental
Camellia Herb
plants for their flowers; about 3,000 cultivars and hybrids have been selected, many with double flowers, as in the galley below. Camellia japonica (often simply called Camellia) is the most prominent species in cultivation, with over 2,000 named cultivars; next are C. reticulata, with over 400 named cultivars, and C. sasquana, with over 300 named cultivars. Popular hybrids include C. hiemalis (C. japonica C. sasquana) and C. williamsii (C. japonica C. salouenensis). They are highly valued in Japan and elsewhere for their very early flowering, often among the first flowers to appear in the late winter. Late frosts can damage the flowers.

Camellia japonica is the state flower of Alabama as well as the city flower of the Chinese municipality Chongqing.



Other useful herb information: Horny Goat Weed | Parsley | Fo-Ti | Sarsaparilla | Evening Primrose | Garcinia Cambogia | Clove

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