Camellia edithae Hance

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Article from New Trees by John Grimshaw & Ross Bayton

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'Camellia edithae' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2024-04-25.

Shrub or tree 2–7 m. Branchlets greyish brown, densely covered in yellowish indumentum. Leaves leathery, 6–12.5(–15.5) × 2.5–4.5 cm, ovate to lanceolate, upper surface dark green and shiny, with yellow indumentum along the midrib, lower surface pale green and villous, seven to nine secondary veins on each side of the midrib, margins minutely serrate, apex acuminate; petiole 0.2–0.5 cm long, villous; leaves sometimes amplexicaul. Flowers subterminal, solitary, 5–6 cm diameter, subsessile. Bracteoles/sepals 9–11, persistent, pubescent, outer bracteoles/sepals suborbicular, 0.4–0.6 cm long, inner bracteoles/sepals ovate, 1.5–2.5 cm long; petals five to six, red or pink, obovate, 2.5–4.5 cm long, apex emarginate; stamens numerous, 2.5–3 cm long; ovary densely tomentose. Capsule subglobose, 1.5–2 cm diameter, brown, holding three to six seeds. Flowering January to March, fruiting October (China). Ming & Bartholomew 2007. Distribution CHINA: Fujian, northeast Guangdong, southeast Jiangxi. Habitat Forest between 200 and 1000 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 7b. Conservation status Not evaluated.

Camellia edithae is on the small side for inclusion here, but is notable for its handsome large leaves, appearing less glossy than they are from the effect of their intricate pattern of veins. The stems are densely hairy while young, becoming dark brown with age. The flowers are of medium size, and red. In the wild they are single, but in cultivation two doubles are known: ‘Momudan’ is dark red and ‘Jiuqu’ a formal-shaped deep pink. The Chinese name for the species, Dongnan Shancha, appears to be used in the United States as a cultivar name for ‘Jiuqu’ (Gao et al. 2005). It is possible that these are the only clones in cultivation at present, but the single, fertile forms should be sought as they have considerable breeding potential. The species appears to be very hardy, surviving –18 ºC in North Carolina (Parks 2002). It is well established in North American collections, but has not been located in Europe.

UPDATE MAY 2023: we are informed that C. edithae is now available in Europe, having been propagated and distributed by Eusebio Redondo, of Viveros Ortel in Fene, Spain (P. Bernard pers. comm. 2023).