Mostly evergreen shrubs, some in tree form in their native habitat. Leaves are simple, alternate, short petioled, and with serrate margins. Flowers are bisexual, axillary, usually solitary or sometime 2-3 together, white, pink, red or multicolored. Fruit is a woody capsule. Native to SE Asia, China, Japan and India. The most common gardens species are C. japonica and C. sasasqua, but other garden species include C. cuspidata, C. hiemalis, C. reticulata and C. saluenensis. Hybrid camellias are developed from two or more species, often involving C. japonica and C. saluenensis and/or C. reticulata. One Camellia, Camellia sinensis (syn. Thea sinensis), is grown for its leaves, for it is the tea plant.
Camellia: after George J. Kamel, Asiatic traveler (1661-1706).