Did you know that there are over 800 types of Camellias? The Cummer Gardens are home to both the Camellia japonica and the Camellia sasanqua.
Camellia japonica blooms in the winter or early spring, and has large leaves and flowers. Camellia sasanqua blooms in the fall and has smaller, darker leaves with a smaller flower. It is also heartier and more drought-tolerent than Camellia japonica. Both are very commonly chosen by home gardeners and are not difficult to grow.
Camellias are native to eastern and southern Asia, from the Himalaya to east Korea and Indonesia. The plant is considered an evergreen shrub, meaning that it stays full and green all year. During most times of year, you can even find at least one or two blooms. The flowers are usually large and conspicuous, up to 6 inches in diameter. The colors vary from white through pink to red, and in a few species, yellow. The plant usually has a moderate growth rate of about a foot per year until they mature. In order for the flowers to bloom, the temperatures must drop to about 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
Camellias aren’t just pretty though, they actually have a number of practical uses.
- Camellia sinensis, or tea plant, is the most famous and is used commercially for its tea leaves.
- Tea oil is a sweet seasoning and cooking oil that comes mostly from the seed of the Oil-seed and Japanese camellias. This is the most used cooking oil for millions of people, especially in southern China.
- The camellia parasite, Mycella sterile, produces a metabolite used in pharmaceutical production.
Check back regularly to see what’s blooming out in the gardens!