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San Francisco Botanical Garden is a public/private partnership between San Francisco Botanical Garden Society and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

Featured Plant

January

Camellia cuspidata

Profile:

Scientific Name: Camellia cuspidata

Common Names: Heath (sometimes called heather)

Family: Theaceae

Plant Type: Evergreen tree

Environment: Partial shade to full sun, moist, but well drained soil

Bloom: Solitary, white flowers to 1”. Flowers occasionally light red.

Uses: Border plant

Location:

Camellia cuspidata can be found:
Camellia Garden – 58C, 58E

About

Camellia cuspidata

Camellia cuspidata (Kochs) H.J. Veitch is a large shrub native to southeastern China. C. cuspidata is an evergreen species with flowers that bloom early in the winter here in the Bay Area. Camellia cuspidata was first introduced to western cultivation by E.H. Wilson. Wilson, a former director of the Arnold Arboretum, collected extensively across China and introduced thousands of species that we find in gardens today. He collected seed of C. cuspidata in 1900 while in China collecting for Veitch and Sons Nursery, a large nursery in England in the 19th and early 20th century. Plants grown from these seeds first flowered in 1912. Despite the introduction of this species to the west in the twentieth century, Camellias have been cultivated for hundreds of years in China and Japan

Camellia cuspidata is a large shrub with glossy evergreen leaves that have a bronze tint when first leafing out. Over time individuals will grow into a bushy habit and at maturity will reach about 10 feet and will take approximately 10 to 20 years to reach that height. The species has small white, occasionally pale red, flowers that can be found as individuals or in clusters. The specific epithet gives one a clue to a noteworthy character of the plant. The name cuspidata is derived from the Latin word cuspidatus which means with a sharp point, which refers to the pointed tips of the leaves. The species is also noted for its cold tolerance and is an important species in the breeding of various cultivated Camellias. As such, it is a parent to many different cultivars and hybrids of Camellias.

Camellia cuspidata is found in abundant populations in its native range in southern China. In recent assessments the species was not found to be of conservation concern due to its robust population size and a lack of known threats to the species.

IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS: Text and Profile by Victoria Stewart. Photos by Joanne Taylor.