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Camellia japonica - L.

Common Name Camellia, Common Camellia, Japanese Camellia
Family Theaceae
USDA hardiness 7-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Woods in hills and down to sea level near the coast in C. and S. Japan[58].
Range E. Asia - Japan, Korea.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Camellia japonica Camellia, Common Camellia, Japanese Camellia

Camellia japonica Camellia, Common Camellia, Japanese Camellia


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Bloom Color: Lavender, Orange, Pink, Red, White, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Early winter, Late fall, Late winter, Mid winter. Form: Oval.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Camellia japonica is an evergreen Shrub growing to 10 m (32ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from April to June, and the seeds ripen in October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Thea japonica.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Oil  Oil
Edible Uses: Oil  Oil  Tea

An edible oil is obtained from the seed[11, 61, 105]. It is called 'tsubaki oil'[183]. Dried flowers - cooked[105]. Used as a vegetable or mixed with gelatinous-rice to make a Japanese food called 'mochi'[183]. The leaves are a tea substitute[142, 177, 178, 183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Astringent  Cancer  Haemostatic  Salve  Tonic

The flowers are astringent, antihaemorrhagic, haemostatic, salve and tonic[178, 218]. When mixed with sesame oil they are used in the treatment of burns and scalds[218]. The plant has shown anticancer activity[218].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Dye  Oil  Oil

A non-drying oil is obtained from the seed - used as a hair-dressing[46, 61]. The oil consists mainly of olein it is not subject to polymerize or oxidize, nor does it form solids at low temperatures[174]. A green dye is obtained from the pink or red petals[168].

Special Uses


References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Espalier, Standard, Specimen. Prefers a woodland soil but thrives in a warm open well-drained loam if leafmould is added[1, 11, 200]. A calcifuge plant, preferring a pH around 5[11, 200]. Prefers the partial shade of a light woodland[200], it also grows well on a north-west aspect[11] and on sunless walls[202]. This is a very cold hardy plant, but it cannot tolerate cold winds[11]. Plants should be given a position shaded from the morning sun in order to protect the flowers from late frosts[219]. Prefers a wet summer and a cool but not very frosty dry winter[200]. Plants are not very self-compatible, self-fertilized flowers produce few seeds and these are of low viability[200]. A very ornamental plant[11]. A large amount of named forms have been developed, mainly for their ornamental value[11, 200]. Many of them tolerate full sun[182, 200]. Camellias are a valuable commercial crop in Asia, where they are cultivated for the oil obtained from their seed. Many of the cultivars grown in Britain do not set seed, unfortunately. The following cultivars have been seen with good crops of seeds:- 'Alba Simplex'; 'Coppelia'; 'Guillio Nuccio'; 'Jupiter'[K].The sub-species C. japonica macrocarpa. Masam. has larger fruits than the type, looking like small apples. The sub-species C. japonica rusticana (Honda.)Kitamura. is a hardier form from N. Japan where it grows at higher altitudes than the species and withstands long snowy winters[11, 219].Special Features:Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Blooms are very showy.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - can be sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse[113]. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water and the hard covering around the micropyle should be filed down to leave a thin covering[78, 113, 138]. It usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 23°c[138]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions when they are more than 15cm tall and give them some protection from winter cold for their first year or three outdoors[K]. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 10 - 15cm with a heel, August/September in a shaded frame. High percentage but slow[78]. Cuttings of firm wood, 7 - 10cm with a heel, end of June in a frame[11, 78]. Keep in a cool greenhouse for the first year[11]. Leaf-bud cuttings, July/August in a frame.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

False flax, Gold of pleasure, Kamelia jepang, Mawar musim dingin, Rose of winter, Shancha, Siberian oil seed, Trahoa nhat, Tsitsmati,

Africa, Asia, Australia, China, East Africa, Europe, Georgia, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Japan*, Korea, Pacific, Sao Tome and Principe, SE Asia, Taiwan, Tasmania, USA, Vietnam, Zimbabwe,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Camellia biflora Shrub9.0 -  LMSNM20 
Camellia chekiangoleosaCamelliaShrub6.0 7-10  LMSNM20 
Camellia gracilisCamelliaShrub4.0 -  LMSNM20 
Camellia kissi Shrub12.0 7-10  LMSNM22 
Camellia oleiferaTea-Oil Plant, Tea Oil CamelliaShrub4.0 6-9 SLMSNM222
Camellia pitardii Shrub7.0 7-10  LMSNM20 
Camellia polyodonta Shrub4.5 7-10  LMSNM20 
Camellia reticulataTo-tsubakiShrub10.0 7-10  LMSNM301
Camellia sasanquaCamellia, Sasanqua camelliaShrub3.0 7-9 SLMSNM314
Camellia semiserrata Shrub12.0 7-10  LMSNM20 
Camellia sinensisTea Plant, Assam tea, Tea Tree CamelliaShrub4.0 7-9 SLMSM443
Camellia sinensis assamicaTea Plant, Assam TeaShrub10.0 8-10 SLMHSNM443
Camellia yunnanensis Shrub3.6 7-10  LMSNM20 
Stewartia pseudocamelliaJapanese StewartiaTree15.0 4-7 SLMHSNM102

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

marina markolefas   Fri Aug 27 08:56:47 2004

beautiful plant i am having fun researching on it for an assignment. gorgeous.

sandra   Wed Nov 7 2007

you should put more info like why is this plant endangered and how often does it reproduce? how many are left?

katherine   Thu Mar 9 2006

how do the camellia japonica grow?

ymzx   Sat May 27 2006

Katherina grow in wild ? see http://www.toshimamura.org/04kankou01.html

colin turnbull   Thu Jan 4 2007

i have recieved what i think to be a camellia japonica for xmas. was wandering if anyone could help me since purchasing the leaves are turning purple and starting to fall off plant has been well watered and fed. any info would be appreciated

Mrs J Hunter   Mon Jul 2 2007

Thanks for your information. My camellia bush has a single fruit, and I wanted to know about it. I might try to grow more from the seed.

Vivienne Vidal   Fri Oct 12 2007

Can anyone tell me if one can use the yellow fruits to make jam or jellie Mrs Vidal 12th october 2007

Kevin Feinstein   Sun Nov 25 2007

Has anyone eaten the flowers? Can they be eaten raw? Can you cook them fresh? Here in the Oakland, CA, they are everywhere. It seems nearly every house has one growing! Does anyone recommend harvesting strategies for the tea?

feralkevin's permaculture and edible wild foods edible wild foods, rewilding, and permaculture

s.taylor   Sat Apr 26 2008

my camellia flowers and buds have just dissapeared there one day gone the nex do you know anything that eats them ? regards s. taylor

david   Mon Aug 17 2009

I'm also interested in eating the flowers, (the fact that the plant takes full shade makes it interesting) but am nervous I cant find anything else on the net or in books about their edibility, also one of the only two sources listed here is at times "dubious". I've nibbled a few fresh, seem very inoffensive, pleasant bland, swallowed a tiny amount. That there is a somewhat more documented tradition of their use medicinally suggests they are safe, I found one Asian commercial supplier of petals for medicinal use which is encouraging. There is "Studies on the Constituents of the Flower of Camellia japonica (2)", from googling the identified chemicals all seem to be beneficial, anti-cancer and anti-depressant for instance, or occuring in commonly eaten foods, but I'm no chemist. It's possible they are dried simply for convenience not safety.

Sam   Mon Oct 19 2009

One of my horticulture instructors recommends Camellia oil for lubricating pruners. It is available for sale at a Japanese tool store in California (hidatool.com) The most common cultivar I've seen does not produce seeds. It has a mutation that turns the reproductive parts into additional petals. Pretty, but less useful.

kelly jones   Mon Nov 2 2009

taurus rising black tea from camellia japonica

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