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This species, notable for its yellow flowers, is unlikely to thrive outdoors even in the mildest parts of the British Isles, being a native of Kwangsi in southernmost China and bordering parts of Vietnam. It is a shrub to 12 ft high, with leathery leaves. The golden-yellow flowers 2 to 21⁄2 in. wide are borne in winter, and are portrayed on the jacket of Chang and Bartholomew’s Camellias. Described in 1965, it was introduced to the Kunming Botanical Gardens in Yunnan and thence to camellia growers in various parts of the world. It first flowered outside China early in the 1980s, in California.
This species has given its name to a section of which the first member to be described was the Vietnamese C. flava (Pitard) Sealy (1910). Chang recognises ten species in this section, all from Kwangsi or Vietnam, seven of them described 1979-82. All have yellow flowers.
C. chrysantha is of interest to camellia breeders, but there is only a distant hope that a hybrid with yellow flowers adapted to the British climate will ever be raised from it.
The existing so-called yellow camellias are cultivars of C. japonica with white petals and a centre of yellowish petalodes, the oldest of which is ‘Fortune’s Yellow’; for the rediscovery of this see the article by Ralph Peer in Rhod. Cam. Year Book No. 8 (1954), pp. 20-23.