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ntroduced Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Camellia, Japanese Camellia
Botanical name: Camellia japonica     Family: Theaceae (Tea family)

A native of China, the Camellia produces flowers up to 5 in wide with yellow centers and rounded overlapping petals, much like a rose. The flowers are prized, but so are the glossy leaves that stay a deep, shiny green all year. It is a slow grower, but eventually will reach up to 20 ft tall. Camellias flower from late winter to early spring. Over 3,000 varieties, cultivars and hybrids of Camellia japonica are cultivated. This very popular shrub is used in borders and in formation hedges. Use it for specimen plants on the lawn and for colorful accents near outdoor living areas. Camellias are especially attractive and easy to grow when planted under a canopy of live oaks and pine trees that provide broken shade. It is tolerant of urban conditions if maintained, and can also be used in containers. The genus was named for George Kamel, a Jesuit missionary who travelled in Asia and studied the flora of the Philippines. Red camellias symbolize intrinsic worth and white blossoms mean loveliness. Displayed at Korean weddings as far back as 1200 BC, camellias represent longevity and faithfulness.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in New Delhi & Shillong.

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