Christmas Camellia – Camellia sasanqua

Species of Camellia native to the evergreen coastal forests of southern Japan. It is an evergreen shrub growing to 5 m tall. The leaves are broad, elliptic, 3-7 cm long and 1.2-3 cm broad, with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are 5-7 cm diameter, with 5-8 white to dark pink petals.

It was not known in western societies until 1869 when Dutch traders imported some specimens into Europe. It is valued in gardens for its handsome glossy green foliage, and fragrant single white flowers produced extremely early in the season – often as early as Christmas.