Gordonia axillaris (Roxb.) D. Dietr.
Synonyms: Camellia axillaris Roxb. ex Ker; G. anomala Spreng.; Polyspora axillaris (Roxb.) Sweet
An evergreen shrub or small tree; young shoots smooth, grey. Leaves shortly stalked, stout, very leathery, oblanceolate to oblong, tapered more gradually towards the base than to the often blunt apex, shallowly toothed towards the end only, 21⁄2 to 71⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 21⁄2 in. wide, glabrous and dark glossy green. Flowers creamy white, 3 to 6 in. wide, solitary on very short stalks produced from the terminal part of the shoot. Petals five or six, 11⁄2 in. wide, deeply notched; stamens very numerous; anthers yellow. Fruits erect, oblong, 11⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long, 5⁄8 in. wide, hard and woody, the hardened sepals persisting below. Bot. Mag., t. 4019.
Native of China and Formosa; first named “Camellia axillaris” by Roxburgh, whose description was published by Ker in 1818, and figured under that name in the Botanical Magazine, t. 2047, the following year. So poor was this figure that another plate in the same periodical was allotted to the species in 1843. It has been cultivated in a cool greenhouse at Kew for many years, but in Cornwall and other places is grown in the open air. In flower it resembles a single white camellia and at its best is very beautiful. Both Wilson and Forrest found it plentifully in western China. It likes a soil free from calcareous matter. Its flowering season is an intermittent one extending from November to May and the flower-buds are frequently killed by frost.
G. chrysandra Cowan – This species was discovered by Forrest in 1912 west of Tengyueh near the frontier between Yunnan and Burma; he appears to have introduced it in 1917 under F.15559, collected at 9,000 ft on the western flank of the Tali range, where it makes a large shrub 20 to 30 ft high. First described in 1931, this species differs from G. axillaris chiefly in its smaller leaves (up to about 4 in. long) and smaller flowers (about 2 in. or slightly more wide). It has been so little tried out-of-doors that it would not be possible to state whether or not it is less tender than G. axillaris’, it is likely, in any case, to be bud-tender. In the Edinburgh Botanic Garden it is grown under glass and has never survived when planted outside. There was a specimen in the old Temperate House at Wisley which flowered well in January and February. Propagation is by cuttings of nearly ripened wood. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 285.
G. lasianthus (L.) Ellis Hypericum lasianthum L. Loblolly Bay. – This American species scarcely merits more than a short mention, since not only is it tender but, like the related Franklinia alatamaha, it needs considerable summer heat. It is an evergreen tree growing to about 70 ft high, found in the coastal parts of the south-eastern USA from southern Virginia to Florida and Louisiana. The white flowers, measuring 21⁄2 in. across, are borne on stalks about 3 in. long – a character which serves to distinguish it from G. axillaris, in which the flowers are very shortly stalked. Bot. Mag., t. 668.