It is one of the tropical camellias, a relatively recent discovery in Vietnam. We saw it growing outdoors at the botanic gardens* in Foshan, amongst the yellow camellia collection which is similarly tropical. It was reasonably substantial – a handsome, large shrub at maybe 2.5 metres tall. The foliage was striking with huge, lush, textured leaves while the flowers had very thick petals. The information board below said it flowered from summer to autumn and sometimes all year round. This would be because it is a tropical plant from a climate without marked seasonal change. We were viewing blooms in early spring.At Kunming Botanic Gardens, it was growing in a covered house with the yellow species. Presumably it is too cold in winter for it to be grown outdoors there (Foshan is coastal while Kunming is inland). The buds have a similar tight, round ball form to the yellow species – more on those in an upcoming article.
Whether our mild, temperate climate would suit Camellia amplexicaulis is not certain. We have trouble getting the tropical yellow species to bloom here. But it is such a handsome and interesting camellia that it is worth a try. And if it does flower here, it may bloom outside peak petal blight season and the heavy texture of the blooms means it would not be as prone to weather damage as many other softer textured camellias.
*I refer to the botanic gardens in Foshan though the official itinerary names it as the Institute of Forestry Science. While we associate forestry with commercial production of Pinus radiata in this country, the southern Chinese forests contain many wild camellias and the forestry institutes appear to have a conservation responsibility for indigenous plants.