Camellia, the camellias, is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the family Theaceae, and furnishing the domestic drug tea and some of the most beautiful of cultivated flowers. All the species are natives of China, Japan, or Nepal. They were first imported into Europe by a German named Kamel, in the year 1739, and hence the name of camellia. They are polypetalous cotyledons, with alternate feather-veined leaves, regular flowers, the petals and sepals both imbricated in aestivation, and have some affinity with the rose tribe. The Camellia bohea and viridis are the species whose dried leaves make the tea of commerce. The Camellia Japonica is called by the French la rose du Japon, or la rose de la Chine. It has broad shining leaves and beautiful red or white flowers, single or double, and is the origin of nearly all the varieties now cultivated in gardens.
These have been imported into Europe and America, and new varieties are annually produced by horticulturists. Forty-five standard varieties have been developed, some having single, some double, and some semi-double flowers, and being in color white, red, yellow, or variegated. Camellias thrive best when treated as conservatory shrubs, planted in the open border under glass, freely exposed to light and air, and sufficiently protected from the frost. Thus treated, they become large evergreen bushes, densely covered with foliage, upon which their splendid flowers are conspicuously beautiful, and much more brilliant than when the roots are confined in garden pots and cramped for want of room
They have 5 or 6 Sepals passing gradually from bracteoles into petals, the latter slightly cohering at the base with many stamens. Its capsule is woody with 3- to 5-eelled cells usually 1-seeded and its are seeds exal-buminous. The Camellias are usually treated as greenhouse plants, but as the common single one succeeds very well in the south-western counties with slight protection.
Camellia Japonica :
It is a native both of China and Japan also known as Japan Rose or Japonica. It is an Asiatic genus of small shrubs, often with shining leaves and showy flowers. It is grown as an ornamental plant. Flowers of Japan rose are of very great delicacy and purity as created by the supreme creator. It is an abundant bloomer, and with excellent foliage. The petals are broad and cupped, without the deep indentation. It is a small tree or shrub usually grows to height of 5-20 feet but sometimes it grows 36 ft tall in the form of tree. It has dark green leathery leaves with a pointed base(cuneate) and fine saw like toothed margins.
Camellia Sinensis :
It is an evergreen shrub or tree and can grow to heights of 30 feet, but is usually pruned to 2-5 feet for cultivation. The leaves are dark green, alternate and oval, with serrated edges, and the blossoms are white, fragrant, and appear in clusters or singly. Black, oolong, and green tea are produced from its leaves.
It is an evergreen shrub attaining a height of 5 to 15 feet. Its leaves are a glowing waxy green and are broad elliptic, 3 – 7 cm long and 1 – 3 cm broad, with a finely serrated margin. Its flowers are 5–7 cm in diameter, and are usually single and it has large and glossy foliage. It has red, white, pink and purple color flowers.
Camellias Oleifera :
Also known as Oil seed camellia or Tea oil as its seed are used in oil production. It is much similar to the above mentioned species except its dark green leaves are a bit longer and produces white fragrant flowers. It is cultivated as an oleaginous plants in China, and the oil pressed from the seeds is said to be equal to the finest quality of olive oil.
Camellia care :
The soil heat adapted to the growth of Camellias is a mixture of peat and rotten sod in nearly equal proportions, with a little silver sand added. Where the soil is peculiarly light and sandy, a less quantity of peat is requisite. Mix this well together, but not sifted ; use it as rough as possible, as it is necessary the soil should be open and porous ; the plants will have a more healthy appearance. In potting use plenty of broken crocks, thereby securing a free drainage, a circumstance indispensable to the success of the plants. The proper season for the general shifting is when the young growth is hardened, and the blossom buds for next year can be detected at the extremity of the shoots. After shifting all those that require it, place them out in the open air in a shady place; an occasional sprinkling of the foliage will improve the appearance as well as be beneficial to the health of the plants. At all times attention must be paid to watering them properly, the roots being apt to become matted in the pots, so as to render the ball of earth impervious to moisture ; hence it is necessary to see that the ball of earth is moistened by the water poured upon it instead of the web of fibres only, this requiring an examination of the roots, and reducing or pruning them at least once a year, a measure almost indispensable.
At the respective periods of growth and flowering, the plants will require plentiful watering-during the latter, if not regularly supplied, the bloom buds will infallibly fall off instead of expanding into flower. At other times a moderate supply is essential. The effect of constantly watering may be presumed to diminish or destroy the fertility of the small quantity of earth allotted to each plant; therefore, when the annual re-potting occurs, carefully take away as much of the former ball of earth as can be done without injuring or cutting the roots.
How to plant Camellia :
The usual methods of propagation of camellia plants are by grafting and budding on the single red Camellia, cuttings of which are found to strike root more readily than of the double varieties. The cuttings are taken as soon as the young shoots are sufficiently ripe at the base. They are carefully prepared by being cut smoothly over with a sharp knife at a joint, and divested of one or two leaves at the bottom, and then planted firmly about two inches deep in pots filled with the Camellia compost, before described, and the upper part filled with fine sand. They are then well watered and the plants plunged over a little gentle heat and kept closely shaded for three or four months, by which time short fibres or a callus, from which they afterwards diverge, are produced, When sufficiently rooted to bear removal, they are potted singly in small pots, the sand being then carefully removed. The pots should be well drained and filled with the Camellia compost, with the addition of a little white sand. They are afterwards to be sprinkled with water and placed in a close frame or pit, until they begin to root afresh, and by degrees exposed to the air.
The succeeding season they may be potted in the same soil as the other Camellias, and similarly treated, and many of the plants will then have obtained sufficient size and strength for budding, and all of them by the following season. The best time for budding is as soon as the lew wood is sufficiently ripened, but it may be done at almost any season of the year.
Pruning Camellia :
To keep camellia plant in good shape it is necessary to thin out twiggy shoots in the center after the flowering period, and thus induce new growths outwards and lower down the main stems. It is unnecessary to pot the plants every year, some lasting for several years in the same pots. To keep them up to the flowering mark, however, weak liquid manure should be applied during active growth. Camellias may be propagated by cuttings of the nearly ripened young shoots inserted in sandy peat and loam, and plunged in bottom heat. They are, however, increased more readily by grafting – the scions of choice varieties being united with stocks of the commoner single-flowered varieties.
If any late-blooming Camellias or Azaleas have been allowed to assume a loose, straggling growth, these plants should be cut into shape at once, and remain inside until later in the season. Allow the young shoots to start before shaking out and repotting. In some cases such plants are better potted into smaller sized pots, after reducing the ball of soil carefully, without destroying the roots; and Azaleas in very large pots may have the bail reduced by cutting the sides away until it can be potted in the same size again, with sufficient fresh soil between the roots and pot to give it a fresh start. Such plants require keeping at the close end of the house, be frequently syringed and carefully watered, for if it gets too wet or very dry, the plants will be sure to die. In potting all large plants, but especially such fine-rooted things as Azaleas, be careful to make the Boil very firm from the bottom to the top, and leave the soil a trifle higher round the sides of the pot than in the middle. The fresh soil will sink a little, and also be washed away to some extent in the most careful watering; it also turns the water to the old ball full of roots which is sure to get dry first.
Camellia Oil :
Camellia Oleifera and Camellia sinensis seeds are pressed for yielding oil. Camellia oil is transparent in color and resembles olive oil in mobility.
Characteristics of Camellia oil:
(1.) Specific Gravity. – The specific gravity at 60° F. is 917.5), water at 60° F. being taken as 1,000.
(2.) Action of Cold. – On subjecting to the cold produced by a mixture of pounded ice and salt, some solid fatty matter, probably stearine, separates, adhering to the side of the tube. It takes a longer exposure and a lower temperature than is necessary with olive oil.
When one drop of sulphuric acid is added to eight or ten drops of tea oil on a white plate, the change of color observed is more like that when almond oil is similarly treated than with any other oil, olive oil coming next in order of similarity.
When a few drops of camellia oil are boiled with thirty drops or so of nitric acid in a small tube, the layer of oily matter, when the brisk action has moderated, is of a light yellow color, similar in tint to that produced from almond and olive oil under similar circumstances.
(3.) Free Acidity of Oil. – The oil was found to contain free acid in small quantity, which was estimated by agitating a weighed quantity with alcohol, in which the free acid dissolves while the neutral fat does not, and titrating the alcoholic liquid with decinormal alkali, using solution of phenol-phthalein as an indicator.
(4.) Saponification of the Oil. – In order to estimate this, a known excess of alcoholic solution of potash is added to a weighed quantity of the oil, contained in a stout, well-closed bottle, which is then heated in a water oven until the liquid is clear, no oil bubbles being visible. Phenol-phthalein solution being added, the excess of potash is estimated by carefully titrating with standard hydrochloric acid solution.
(5.) The Fatty Acids Produced. – A solution of the potash soap was treated with excess of hydrochloric acid, and after being well washed with hot water, the cake of fatty acids was dried thoroughly and weighed. These, insoluble in water, amounted to 93.94 per cent, of the fat taken. The proportion dissolved in the water used for washing was estimated by titration with alkali, the quantity of KOH required was insignificant, equaling O.71 per cent, of the fat originally used. This acid was proved to be oleic, by its saturating power and its melting point, which were fairly concordant with those of the pure acid.
Camellia Tea :
White tea, green tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea and black tea are all harvested from this species. Unlike black and oolong tea, green tea production does not involve oxidation of young tea leaves. Green tea is produced from steaming fresh leaves at high temperatures, thereby inactivating the oxidizing enzymes and leaving the polyphenol content intact. The polyphenols found in tea are more commonly known as flavanols or catechins, and comprise 30-40 percent of the extractable solids of dried green tea leaves. The main catechins in green tea are epicatechin, epicatechin-3-gallate, epigallocatechin, and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), with the latter being the highest in concentration. Green tea polyphenols have demonstrated significant antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, thermogenic, probiotic, and antimicrobial properties in numerous human, animal, and in vitro studies. Studies have shown that green tea is useful in obesity weight control and also works as an antioxidant.