Camellia japonica × Camellia cuspidata

A BPotD note to start today’s entry: you’ll have noticed that Claire hasn’t had too many entries lately. She’s still working on BPotD, though — she’s preparing the entries for the series we do for Celebrate Research week, which involves much preparation work with the professors and graduate students.

To start the series on plants of Japan, frequent Botany Photo of the Day contributor James Gaither, aka J.G. in S.F.@Flickr, shared this image of a Camellia hybrid via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. James also has a second close-up photograph of this plant posted to Flickr. Thank you!

I suppose I should add a qualifier to today’s entry: this hybrid Camellia is only 50% Japanese origin. Camellia japonica in the wild is native to Japan and South Korea. The other parent of this hybrid, Camellia cuspidata, is widespread across temperate China.

The order of the names of the parent species for this hybrid is important, as it indicates Camellia japonica is the seed parent while Camellia cuspidata is the pollen parent. It’s not a natural hybrid, as the two species do not have overlapping ranges, and I doubt it was a chance seedling as the parentage is known. So, this artificial cross was likely made purposefully by a camellia hybridizer, and I’ll also guess that UC Berkeley Botanical Garden has the detailed records of its origin. Camellia japonica is often used in Camellia hybridization, with over 2000 cultivars and selections (674 records match in the RHS Plant Finder, which is an indication of how many are available in RHS Plant Finder listed nurseries). However, Camellia cuspidata is rarely used, with only 8 records matching in the RHS Plant Finder.

For further reading, the American Camellia Society has a set of articles on Camellia hybridization.

Lastly, a personal note for BPotD readers in western North Carolina, eastern Georgia and the South Carolina points in-between (or those familiar with the region): I will be visiting your part of the world at the end of April and early May this year, and I’d be interested to hear from you via email about your favourite gardens, parks or botanically-oriented hikes. I am scouting for a group trip in 2012, so even restaurant suggestions for a mid-sized group would be welcome! Thanks in advance!

Camellia japonica × Camellia cuspidata

11 responses to “Camellia japonica × Camellia cuspidata”

  1. Daniel Mosquin

    Ah, I should have pointed out. The flower in the centre is a mature flower, the one on the left is still in the process of opening and maturing.

  2. Mary Wilson

    Stranded in Minnesota, I have tried to keep camellias alive many times. I suppose because I start with the overfed, hot housed forced varieties, they always die. I can keep many simple tropicals alive over 30 years and the Hawaiian purchased orchids do great but I fail with camellias.. It’s February, the longest month of the year in Minnesota and I dream of camellia perfume filling the house. Oh well..The tour sounds wonderful.How can I follow what you put together?… Thanks for the photos…Mary in Minnesota missing the perfume

  3. Linda Chafin

    Hello, Daniel – I hope you will put the State Botanical Garden of Georgia on your itinerary! We are located in Athens, about 70 miles east of Atlanta. We are big fans of BPOTD here in Georgia and I can promise you some good field trips and great meals. Our new director, as of September 2010, is Wilf Nicholls, who worked at UBC Botanical Garden in the 80s and 90s — did you know him? Linda Chafin, Conservation Botanist
    State Botanical Garden of Georgia
    University of Georgia
    2450 South Milledge Avenue
    Athens, GA 30605

  4. Jonathan Knisely

    Azaleas. Azaleas. Azaleas. Try to get into the Smoky Mountains (for example, on Gregory Bald) to see the flame azaleas. It may be too late for the east coast trilliums at that time. It should be great fun seeing the plants of this part of North America…

  5. Geri Laufer

    This looks like it must be a parent of C. j. ‘Magnoliaflora’? my fav. Is it?

  6. Rebecca Funderburk

    Please visit Aiken, SC and our Hitchcock Woods, one of the largest urban parks in the country at about 2100 acres. We are also the home of Woodlanders Nursery which supplies unusual plants all over the country. The nursery has planted many of their plants around the city. After visiting those botanical wonders you can eat at Milias…always good!

  7. Christopher C NC

    One of my readers sent me here to give you suggestions for your trip. The Southern Appalachian mountains of WNC and East Tennessee are the most botanically diverse area of the country. You can’t go wrong on any hike in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park or any of the trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Craggy Gardens on the BRP is one of the more famous trails on the parkway. There are too many to mention really. Max Patch on the Appalachian Trail in Pisgah National Forest is a great wild flower hike.
    In Asheville there is the North Carolina Arboretum and the native plant Asheville Botanical Gardens. There is also a small, hidden, very diversely planted native plant garden in Lake Junaluska west of Asheville. Expensive, but worth a visit are the gardens at Biltmore Estate.
    There is a garden high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top, the wild cultivated garden, that does give occasional private tours if you should find yourself in my neck of the woods.

  8. Melissa in South Carolina

    South Carolina really ‘does’ Camellias proud. We flower like nobody’s business.
    To Rebecca and to all, Aiken is lovely–beautiful gardens and horse country! Then there are the many Irises and Swan Lake of Sumter. And don’t forget Magnolia Plantation & Gardens near Charleston, S.C. with its huge camellia garden – Usually January is the best time to prowl this beautiful garden.
    A quotation from their website: “The gardens at Magnolia Plantation are of such beauty and variety that they have brought tourists from around the world to view them since they were open to the public in the early 1870s. However, many parts of the gardens are much older, some sections more than 325 years old, making them the oldest unrestored gardens in America. As the plantation has stayed within the ownership of the same family for more than three centuries, each generation has added their own personal touch to the gardens, expanding and adding to their variety. Today there are various varieties of flowers from camellias, daffodils, to azaleas and countless other species in bloom year round, with the climax of incredible beauty building towards the spring bloom.”

  9. Tom @ Tall Clover Farm

    What a stunner! I feel lucky that camellias are right at home in the Pacific NW, and fear I may run out of room for planting some of these new beauties. And now you say there are 2,000 cultivars? Oh uh, that could be problematic, considering how much land I don’t have.

  10. Daniel Mosquin

    For those who commented re: places to visit:
    Linda, yes, I know Wilf. He wasn’t here at UBC BG when I was hired, but I’ve since spent time with him on a few of his visits to Vancouver and at American Public Gardens Association conferences. We swap emails from time to time. I wasn’t planning on going as far west as Atlanta, but should be able to do Athens on the tail end of my trip, especially since you pointed out it’ll be a chance to catch up with Wilf.
    Jonathan, from what I’ve read so far, I’ll likely encounter azaleas somewhere, but probably not at peak. Trilliums should still be present in the areas I have written guides for, depending on the season.
    Rebecca, yes, I think I will find a way to get to Aiken — I am looking specifically for places in between (or short jaunts from) a direct route between Charleston and Asheville, and Aiken is within what I’d consider for a side trip.
    Christopher C — I’ll write an email, but I think I will be able to visit that wild cultivated garden…
    Melissa, I will dig a little bit more into Sumter. The Magnolia and Plantation Gardens are a definite yes.
    Thank you all!

  11. Daniel Mosquin

    Geri, the parentage for that particular cultivar is unknown: see Camellia japonica ‘Hagoromo’

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