Japanese Camellia – Camellia japonica

The official state flower of Alabama

This is a flowering tree or shrub usually 5-15 feet tall. The youngest branches are purplish-brown, and become grayish-brown as they age. The alternate leathery leaves are dark green on the top side, paler on the underside, usually 2-4 inches long and 1-2.5 inches wide, with finely toothed margins and a pointed tip.

Flowering occurs between January and March in the wild. Flowers appear toward the ends of the branches and have very short stems. There are 6-7 rose or white petals, each 1-2 inches long. The fruit consists of a globe3-shaped capsule with three compartments, each with one or two large brown seeds. Fruiting occurs in September or October in the wild.

C. japonica is valued for its flowers, which can be single or doubled. There are more than 2,000 cultivars, with shades varying from red to pink to white, sometimes with multi-colored stripes or specks.