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!