Camellia chekiangoleosa Hu


C. crassissima Hung T. Chang & Shi, C. liberistamina Hung T. Chang & J.S. Kiu, C. lucidissima Hung T. Chang

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Shrub or tree 3–8 m. Branchlets reddish brown, glabrous. Leaves thick, leathery, 7–13 × 3–6 cm, elliptic to oblong, upper surface shiny green, glabrous, lower surface pale green to yellowish green, glabrous, seven to eight secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins minutely serrate, apex acute to acuminate; petiole 1–1.5 cm long, glabrous. Flowers subterminal or axillary, solitary or paired, 7–10 cm diameter, sub-sessile. Bracteoles/sepals 9–11, inner four to six bracte-oles/sepals persistent in fruit, others caducous, outside grey-villous; petals six to eight, bright red, obovate, 4–6 cm long, apex emar gin ate ; stamens numerous, 2.5– 3 cm long; ovary glabrous. Capsule globose, 4–7.5 cm diameter, splitting via three valves, each section holding three to eight seeds. Flowering November to December, fruiting October of following year (China). Ming & Bartholomew 2007. Distribution CHINA: eastern Anhui, northern Fujian, eastern Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang. Habitat Forest between 500 and 1300 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 7b–8. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Chang & Bartholomew 1984; NT191.

With large, rich red flowers displaying a boss of yellow stamens, Camellia chekiangoleosa is a valuable newcomer to the garden flora – ‘a thoroughly desirable addition to a collection’ (Hudson 2004). It is related to C. japonica, but has larger flowers of a purer red, and hybrids between the two species are also reported to have good red colour (Gao et al. 2005). Unfortunately it remains rare in cultivation, although it is apparently quite hardy. In China it is grown for the edible oil extracted from its seeds.

The sumptuous red flowers of Camellia chekiangoleosa are as yet seldom seen in cultivation, but it seems to be quite hardy. Image JC Raulston Arboretum.



Other species in the genus