Camellia japonica, Camellia reticulata, Camellia sasanqua

[From left to right: Camellia japonica, Camellia reticulata, Camellia sasanqua]
(Photos by Hatel Patel)

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Taxonomy (1,4,5)

Classification: Angiosperm, dicot
Family: Theaceae
Common name: Camellia, Japonicas (Camellia japonica); Sasanqua camellia (Camellia sasanqua)
VarietiesYuletide (Camellia sasanqua)

General Information (1,2,3,4,5)

Region of Origin: Japan and China
USDA Plants Hardiness Zones: 6-9 (C. japonica), 8-10 (C. reticulata), 7-9 (C. sasanqua)
Growth Habit: Shrub

  • Size: 20 feet tall (C. japonica), 8-10 feet (C. reticulata), 4-15 feet (C. sasanqua)
  • Deciduous/Evergreen: Evergreen
  • Flowering: Late winter to early spring (C. japonica), October-December (C. reticulata), fall to early winter (C. sasanqua)
  • Fruiting:

Diagnostic Characteristics

Leaves (3,4,5,6)

  • Arrangement: Alternate
  • Simple/Compound: Simple
  • Shape: Ovate to elliptic
  • Other: 2-4 inches long (C. japonica); 4 inches long and serrate (C. reticulata); 1-3 inches long, pubescent, roundly toothed (C. sasanqua)

[From left to right: Camellia japonicaCamellia reticulataCamellia sasanqua]
(Photos by Hatel Patel)

Stem/Bark (6)

  • Color: Brown
  • Texture: Black lenticels (C. japonica); Pubescent (C. sasanqua)

[From left to right: Camellia japonicaCamellia reticulataCamellia sasanqua]
(Photos by Hatel Patel)

Flower (1,2,4,5)

  • Perfect/Imperfect
  • Color: White, pink, red (C. japonica); crimson red (C. reticulata); bright red (C. sasanqua)
  • Size: 2-5 inches (C. japonica), 7 inches (C. reticulata), 1.5-4 inches (C. sasanqua)

[From left to right: Camellia japonicaCamellia reticulata]
(Photos by Hatel Patel)

Fruit (2,4,6)

  • Fruit type: Dry, woody capsule
  • Size: 1 inch
  • Color: Brown

[From left to right: Camellia japonicaCamellia sasanqua]
(Photos by Hatel Patel)

Horticultural Information (1,4,5)

  • Light: Partial shade 
  • Moisture:
  • Soil type:
  • pH: Acidic
  • Maintenance: Easy to care for
  • Landscape Uses: Borders, formation hedges, accents, around houses, ground cover

Interesting Facts (1,4,5,7)

  • This genus was named for George Kamel, a Jesuit missionary who traveled to Asia and studied the flora of the Philippines.
  • Camellias represent longevity and faithfulness. 
  • Camellia reticulata has been cultivated since at least 900 A.D.. Today, there are over 100 named cultivars or varieties.
  • Like the Japonicas, Sasanqua  have been selected and hybridized into dozens of forms that vary immensely in flower color and size and shape.
  • The Japanese use the leaves of Sasanqua to make tea


1) Christman, Steve. (1996). Camellia japonica. Retrieved from
2) Wyman, D. (1969). Shrubs and Vines for American Gardens. Toronto, Canada: The Macmillan Company
4) Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved from
5) Scheper, Jack. (1996). Camellia sasanqua. Retrieved from
6) Dirr, M.A.(1990). Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses(4th ed.). Champaign, Illinois: Stipes Publishing Company.
7) Monrovia. (2013). Yuletide Camellia. Retrieved from 

Prepared by Hatel Patel as a course requirement for BIOL 3630/5630, Spring 2013
Edited by Jessica Bartek