Morning name: camellia

A few days ago, this name of a very pretty bush that is widely grown around here in California. The next day I realized that I pass a sasanqua (Camellia sasanqua), much like the one pictured below, twice a day at lunchtime, but only reflected on this consciously when talking with a friend who was walking with me.


These are single-flowering. There are double-flowered varieties (mostly in Camellia japonica), and there’s also tea bush or tree (Camellia sinensis), whose leaves supply us with the tea we drink.

From Wikipedia:

Camellia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. They are found in eastern and southern Asia, from the Himalayas east to Japan and Indonesia. There are 100–250 described species, with some controversy over the exact number. The genus was named by Linnaeus after the Jesuit botanist Georg Joseph Kamel [in Latin, Camellus], who worked in the Philippines, though he never described a camellia. This genus is famous throughout East Asia

… Of economic importance in the Indian subcontinent and Asia, leaves of C. sinensis are processed to create the popular beverage, tea. The ornamental Camellia japonica, Camellia oleifera and Camellia sasanqua and their hybrids are represented in cultivation by a large number of cultivars.

A C. japonica flower:


The flowers come in white and various shades of pink, red, peach, orange, yellow, and purple.

The plants are acid-loving and also thirsty for water. Jacques and I loved the flowers, but decided not to try to grow them on our patio, since they require a good bit of care. We went for cymbidium orchids instead.

2 Responses to “Morning name: camellia”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    Camellias were in bloom all over Australia when we were there in September/October (i.e., early spring). I kept thinking the flowers were roses until I looked more closely.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Yeah, they look a lot like roses if you don’t attend too closely to the way the petals work (and don’t notice those bright yellow stamens). And they come in the same color range as roses.

      That’s just the flowers. The leaves and branches are *really* different.

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