Plant Collector: Camellia amplexicaulis

Camellia amplexicaulis

Camellia amplexicaulis

We missed the opportunity to buy Camellia amplexicaulis the one time it was offered commercially in New Zealand. That was by Peter Cave, before he closed down his nursery, if my memory serves me right. And when we saw it in China, we were disappointed that we had not picked it up at the time – though at least it is in the country so we should be able to get a scion at some stage.

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.

Camellia amplexicaulis in bud

Camellia amplexicaulis in bud

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.

Not quite a forestry institute as we understand it - Foshan

Not quite a forestry institute as we understand it – Foshan

*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.

2 thoughts on “Plant Collector: Camellia amplexicaulis

  1. Jeannine

    Dear Abby,

    I live at Hikutaia, which is in a valley between Paeroa & Thames, at the base of the Coromandel Peninsula. We have Kiwifruit orchards and on one of them I have 9 Of my favourite magnolias, Felix Jury. They have been in the ground 8 – 10 years and are approx 18 ft high. The last two years I have hardly had a flower on them – like 6 flowers in total over the 9 trees. Last year I could see that the flower buds had been eaten, so this year I have been keeping a very close watch on them, and today I discover lots of buds have been eaten ( something that has happened over the last couple of days) there are still lots of flower buds that are fine ( at this stage). Do you have any idea of what could be eating my flower buds, or any cure I might be able to apply. I would love my magnolias to look the spectacular sight they should be.

    I await your reply,

    Yours faithfully

    Jeannine Cassells

    I will go out and take some pics to send you

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Possum. Shoot the varmint. It is usually only one animal that develops a taste for magnolia buds so if you stalk it at night and shoot it, you may have solved the proble!m.

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