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Camellia japonica: Camellia

One of the best-known and most popular winter-blooming ornamental shrubs is the camellia. They come in several thousand varieties, ranging from pure white, pink, or dark red to plants with multicolored blossoms.

Almost all of them are descended from a single species, namely Camellia japonica. Long prized in China as a decorative plant, its cultivation soon spread to Japan. The camellia originated in the mountains of southwest China, where it grows as a slender, six to nine meter tall tree with five-petalled, generally red flowers. The camellia first arrived in Europe, or more precisely England, in 1731.

The genus Camellia includes about 80 species. The most commercially important is a near relative of the ornamental camellia, Camellia sinensis, the tea shrub, which you can see here in House 11.

With the name Camellia, Linné honored the Moravian priest, botanist, and zoologist George Joseph Kamel, who was born in Brno in 1661. As a Jesuit missionary in the Philippines, Kamel collected, recorded, and sketched the local flora before his death at the age of just 45.



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Camellia japonica: Camellia (MP3, 541 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Ehrentraud Bayer, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg