Shrub or tree 2–8 m. Branchlets yellowish brown, glabrous to pubescent. Leaves thin and leathery, 7–12 × 2–4(–5) cm, elliptic to oblong, upper surface dark green and shiny with minute hairs along the midrib, lower surface pale green and sparsely pubescent, though densely villous along the midrib, 8–10 secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins minutely serrate, apex caudate; petiole 0.3–0.7 cm long, pubescent. Flowers axillary, solitary or up to three in a cluster; pedicel 0.2–0.4 cm long. Bracteoles four to five, 0.1–0.2 cm long, outside pubescent; sepals five, leathery, outside pubescent; petals five to seven, white, obovate, outer two petals 0.8–1 cm long, inner petals 1.3–2 cm long, apex rounded; stamens numerous, 1–1.5 cm long; ovary densely white-tomentose. Capsule ellipsoid to globose, 1.5–2 cm long, usually with a single seed. Flowering October to January, fruiting September to October (China). Ming & Bartholomew 2007. Distribution CHINA: Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hubei, Hunan, Xizang, southeast Yunnan; INDIA; MYANMAR; NEPAL; TAIWAN; VIETNAM. Habitat Broadleaved evergreen forest between (200–)400 and 1400(–2200) m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 9–10. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Chang & Bartholomew 1984.
Camellia caudata is a southern, low-altitude species and Gao et al. (2005) caution that for horticultural use it should be sought from its coldest provenances. Its interest lies in the long-tipped leaves, rather than the small white flowers. It is tenuously in cultivation in southern England and New Zealand.