Tag Archive for 'American Camellia Society'

Camellias for Dwarfs and Elves – an article by Yuri Panchul in American Camellia Yearbook 2011 – full text

Full text of the article about dwarf camellia I wrote a year ago and mentioned in previous post.
This article was published in American Camellia Yearbook 2011.

Полный текст статьи о карликовых камелиях, которую я написал год назад и про которую я написал в предыдущем посте.

Camellias for dwarfs and elves
Yuri Panchul
American Camellia Yearbook 2011

A big disadvantage of the camellia hobby is the fact that eventually almost every camellia is going to become a large tree. Yes, it is possible to prune camellias severely and even create a camellia bonsai. However such drastic techniques are not only labor intensive – they go against the natural habit of growth for the majority of camellias. Are there any dwarf camellias, suitable for a camellia hobbyist with little available space – let’s say, a balcony in a city? Yes and no. There are several camellias that come close, but their variability is no match for the variability of their large camellia relatives. This situation creates an opportunity for the camellia hybridizers of different ranks, including both professionals and backyard hybridizers.

What is a dwarf camellia? An ideal plant should have small leaves, relatively short internodes, high density of foliage and miniature attractive flowers. In addition, a camellia hobbyist would expect to have cultivars with different habits – willowy for groundcovers, rigid and upright for cypress-like columnar growth and everything in between – drooping, spreading, et cetera. A dwarf camellia should be also slow growing, although some people would prefer to have a fast growing cultivar with fine texture (small leaves and flowers) to quickly create a medium-size plant and then control its size with pruning.

Ideally, a set of dwarf cultivars should have all the flower variations available for the rest of camellias – both in color (white, salmon pink, pink, dark pink, red or bicolor) and in form (single, semidouble, formal double, peony or anemone). Unfortunately, only a fraction of the desired combination exists among dwarf camellias.

Last, but not least, it is very desirable to have dwarf cultivars that are easy to grow. So far, many slow-growing and fine-textured camellia cultivars I have are delicate – they have weaker root system and require careful observation when to water and when to fertilize them. These cultivars are also difficult to propagate through grafting and even more difficult by rooting cuttings.

This article describes only camellia species that belong to the section Paracamellia of the genus Camellia, according to the classifications of Robert Sealy (1958) and Ming Tianlu (2000). (Footnote: There is another classification by Chang Hung Ta (1981) that splits Sealy’s Paracamellia section into two sections (Paracamellia and Oleifera), but many botanists, including Dr. William Ackerman feel that these sections are so close that the split is unwarranted.) This section includes sun tolerant Camellia sasanqua, oil-producing Camellia oleifera and many species that potentially cross-breed with Camellia sasanqua, including C. grijsii, C. microphylla, C. puniceiflora and others. The species from the section Paracamellia have generally smaller leaves than the species from other sections, notably from section Camellia that includes popular species C. japonica and C. reticulata. There are some species from other sections of Camellia genus that have small leaves – notably from section Theopsis, but those species are too botanically distant from C. sasanqua group to cross-breed with them.

There are not so many horticulturalists who observed the inheritance of dwarfness in Camellia. An important observation was made by Dr. William Ackerman from Maryland, when he was working on Camellia cold-hardiness program. When crossing non-dwarf C. oleifera ‘Plain Jane’ with non-dwarf C. sasanqua ‘O’Nishiki’, Dr. Ackerman observed that a quarter of hybrids had genetic dwarfness features – slow growth, smaller leaves and internodes. This classical Mendelian 3:1 ratio suggested to Dr. Ackerman that the dwarfness was in this case regulated by a single recessive gene that was heterozygous in two parents. The same gene was probably acting in well-known Ackerman dwarf hybrids ‘Winter’s Rose’ and ‘Winter’s Red Rider’. However this gene may not explain more extreme cases, like a cultivar ‘Jewel Box’ from Nuccio’s Nurseries in Southern California that has much smaller leaves than Ackerman’s hybrids.

‘Jewel Box’ is the smallest of sasanqua cultivars – its typical leaf is just 30×12 mm as comparing to a more regular leaves of sasanqua cultivar ‘Jean May’ that measures 62×28 mm or a typical Camellia japonica leaf of ‘Kamo Honnami’ that measures 90×60 mm. ‘Jewel Box’ originated in Nuccio’s Nurseries, California. It produces a lot of somewhat wavy single white flowers, sometimes with a pink tint on the border. It appears this cultivar was used to decorate Japanese garden in Huntington Library and Gardens in Sam Marino, California. This garden has the healthiest and best maintained ‘Jewel Box’ planted between rocks along the sidewalk.

‘Jewel Box’ does produce seeds and these seeds sprout, so the cultivar can be used for breeding. However the seedlings are very delicate and easily die when overwatered. The plant’s root system is not very strong, so it is important not to overwater, over-dry or over-fertilize the plant. When grown under sub-optimal condition, this plant frequently shows chrolosis (yellow blotches on leaves) or even have deformed undeveloped leaves. It is difficult to say whether it is a genetic feature, or a result or some virus infection that are frequent among camellia cultivars and result in blotched flowers in pink camellias.

‘Jewel Box’ grows slowly but can be grafted, although it is not the easiest plant to propagate by grafting. Some grafts initially take, but stop growing next year and do not grow beyond stunted stage with a lot of almost opened buds, but no real sprouts. Some other grafts not only take and grow, but develop several large leaves before going back to the size of leaves normal for ‘Jewel Box’. ‘Jewel Box’ may be an interesting subject for a researcher to try different plant hormones – synthetic auxins, gibberellin, etc.

One of the best dwarf sasanqua cultivars is ‘Dwarf Shishi’ (leaf 40×20 mm), a seedling of well-knows cultivar ‘Shishigashira’ of so-called Camellia x hiemalis group of hybrids. (Footnote: C. x hiemalis for a long time was considered to be a species, separate from C. sasanqua, until genetic research proved that C. x hiemalis originated from some ancient hybrid of C. sasanqua with C. japonica). ‘Dwarf Shishi’ was originated by Japanese-American horticulturalist Toichi Domoto (1883-1992) in San Francisco Bay Area. This cultivar has attractive dark pink rose-form double flowers, rigid branches, dense low-growing bush and reasonably strong root system. A scion of ‘Dwarf Shishi’ is very easy to graft on some old overgrown camellia – it quickly produces a very dense sturdy plant. ‘Dwarf Shishi’ is definitely a very promising parent for hybridizing.

There is another cultivar called ‘White Dwarf Shishi’, distributed by Nuccio’s Nurseries. It is not clear whether it is a seedling of ‘Dwarf Shishi’. ‘White Dwarf Shishi’ is a nice plant with double white flowers and straight branches, but its branches are slightly more flexible, habit is more upright and the shape of flowers is different from ‘Dwarf Shishi’. Tom Nuccio hypothesized that this cultivar may be the same as another slow-growing cultivar ‘Kira-shiro-kantsubaki’, but this is certainly not the case – the cultivars of ‘Kira-shiro-kantsubaki’ I got from two different sources (Nuccio’s Nurseries and Camellia Forest Nursery in North Carolina) – are different, especially in flower shape.

Next plant I would like to present is ‘Tanya’ – a well-known cultivar of Japanese origin. The name is not Russian ‘Tanya’, but a Japanese name of a classic Japanese drama. Technically speaking, this cultivar is not a dwarf – it can grow to large size, but its leaves are smaller than leaves of most sasanqua cultivars, and its branches are very flexible, almost willowy, which makes it suitable for groundcovers and even dramatic-looking bonsai-like container plant. ‘Tanya’ produces masses of single pink flowers of a nice tone, and these flowers generate a lot of seeds. I have one seedling of ‘Tanya’ with very small leaves (20 x 12 mm) and numerous seedlings with leaves much below average size. This shows that ‘Tanya’ is a very useful parent plant that can be crossed with double cultivars like ‘Dwarf Shishi’ and others.

There is another unusually-looking cultivar ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ (typical leaf 45×20 mm) from Nuccio’s Nurseries. It is slow growing; it has small leaves and star-shaped little white flowers. This is a cute plant to have, however its root system is weak, which makes the plant quite finicky, and I never got any seeds on it. The shape of the flower is unusual for sasanqua and I would not be surprised if it happens to be an accidental inter-species hybrid.

I already mentioned cultivars ‘Winter’s Rose’ and ‘Winter’s Red Rider’ that originated from Dr. William Ackerman’s cold-hardiness research that started in late 1970s, when Dr. Ackerman discovered that a close sasanqua relative, Camellia oleifera, is more cold-hardy than other Camellia species and can be used to extend the geographical range of camellia growing.

‘Winter’s Rose’ is a cross between C. x hiemalis ‘Otome’ and C. oleifera ‘Plain Jane’ (pollen). It has relatively large leaves and would not qualify to be dwarf based on purely leaf size. However it is very slow growing and has low-growing habit, so I would call it a dwarf with some reservation. ‘Winter’s Rose’ has strong branches, dark leaves and very nice rose-form double pink flowers – flower shape is a strong point of this cultivar. Unfortunately it has weak root system and is sensitive for overwatering or over-fertilizing. I would recommend to graft it on something stronger, like ‘Kanjiro’, but I not sure whether ‘Winter’s Rose’ will keep its dwarfness being grafted on a strong rootstock – a growth habit of a plant is controlled by a complicated equilibrium of plant hormones and roots sometimes influence the shoots, although this influence is not inheritable by its offspring.

‘Winter’s Red Rider’, another Dr. Ackerman’s cross between C. hiemalis ‘Shishigashira’ and C. oleifera ‘Lu Shan Snow’ (pollen), has single pink flowers and smaller leaves than ‘Winter’s Rose’. Unfortunately I was not able to grow it well because two plants I got had very weak root system and grafts were not successful.

One of the strangest sasanqua plants available is ‘Sasanqua Compacta’ – a cultivar from Nuccio’s Nurseries that has normal size leaves and large single white flowers, but abnormally short internodes. It is probably a consequence of some mutation that severely restricts the production of one of plant growth hormones or possibly broke some specific biochemical pathways related to the hormones without affecting other pathways. It would be an interesting experiment to graft ‘Sasanqua Compacta’ on some strong rootstock (like ‘Kanjiro’ and ‘Narumigata’) and see whether the graft starts growing normally when it is supplied by the growth hormones synthesized by its rootstock.

There are a lot of low-growing cultivars from Paradise Plants nursery in Australia, for example ‘Paradise Little Liane’, ‘Paradise Petite’, ‘Paradise Little Liane’ and others; they are claimed to be true miniatures, with small leaves and habit. However these cultivars are not available in the United States, probably because of export or propagation restrictions.

In order to create novelties, some hybridizers cross not just different cultivars of the same species but different species. There are several interesting species with small leaves from Paracamellia section, notably some varieties of Camellia grijsii, Camellia puniceiflora and Camellia microphylla.

Camellia grijsii has both large and small leaf varieties. The most distinctive feature of C. grijsii is its deep and clearly visible leaf veins. A wild form of C. grijsii has wavy single white flower. There is a rare Chinese cultivar Camellia grijsii ‘Zhenzhucha’ that has miniature rose-form double white flowers and small leaves (35-40 x 21-23 mm). It is very difficult to explain why this cultivar is not selling yet in every garden store in California and other Camellia states. The flowers are beautiful and the plant is easy to grow (especially when grafted). It is possible that this cultivar is a recent import from China – at the moment Camellia grijsii ‘Zhenzhucha’ is available in Nuccio’s Nurseries but nowhere else I am aware of. This cultivar produces a lot of seeds and might be a good potential parent.

Camellia puniceiflora is another species that has both large and small leaf varieties. The small leaf (37-40 x 16 mm) variety has small pink flowers with balls of bright yellow stamens. Camellia puniceiflora is easy to propagate using grafting; it produces a lot of seeds and can be used in hybridization. The only downside – it is not really a dwarf itself because it quite quickly grows into a large spreading bush with low density of leaves. Most plants I would call ‘dwarfs’ are dense and slow-growing.

Another non-dwarf plant with small leaves is ‘Starry Pillar’ (typical leaf 32×16 mm). This is a new cultivar from Nuccio’s Nurseries with masses of snow-white single flowers of the shape that suggests this is not a sasanqua, but an interspecies hybrid. Nevertheless ‘Starry Pillar’ is very sun-tolerant, just like true sasanqua cultivars. It also has a vertical habit with quite dense foliage. I never saw ‘Starry Pillar’ making seeds so it is difficult to tell whether it can be used in hybridization.

Another small-leaved cultivar with even more distinctive columnar habit is ‘Slim’N’Trim’, also from Nuccio’s Nurseries. Its leaf sizes vary widely but give it a sunny spot with not so much fertilizer, and it will grow into a dense column with small leaves (40 x 17 mm). ‘Slim’N’Trim’ makes medium-size single pink flowers with narrow petals and sometimes produces seeds.

Finally, there are several non-dwarf cultivars that are worth mentioning because their leaves are smaller than the leaves of average sasanqua and these cultivars possess at least some features useful for hybridization program. ‘Silverado’ from Nuccio’s Nurseries is slow-growing smaller leaf (45 x20 mm) cultivar with single white flowers and very rare silvery color of its leaves. ‘Enishi’ is a classical Japanese slow-growing cultivar with smaller than average sasanqua leaves (40-50 x 17-20 mm), drooping growth habit and rose-shape, almost formal double pink flowers. ‘Rosy Pillar’ is a new sasanqua from Nuccio’s Nursery with columnar habit, single pink flowers, smaller leaves (50 x 20 mm) and good seed production. ‘Shikoku Stars’ is a dense wild variety of Camellia sasanqua with many relatively small plain white flowers.



Rosy Pillar:

Shikoku Stars:

As we can see, there are very few sasanqua cultivars that can be truly called “Camellias for dwarfs and elves”. A relatively solid candidate for this title is Dwarf Shishi, other good candidates are ‘Jewel Box’ and ‘White Dwarf Shishi’. Rest of candidates can be called ‘dwarfs’ with some reservations – they are either not so dwarf, or not available in the United States, or require more than usual care to stay in shape and healthy. It is likely that a new generation of better dwarf camellias is going to be introduced in the future, and the most promising candidates are waiting both professional and amateur breeders on their seedling benches.


  1. Ackerman, William L. 2007. Beyond the Camellia Belt. Breeding, Propagating, and Growing Cold-Hardy Camellias. Batavia, Illinois: Ball Publishing.
  2. Camellia Forest Nursery Catalog. Fall 2007. Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  3. Chang Hung Ta and Bruce Bartholomew. 1984. Camellias. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press.
  4. Gao Jiyin, Clifford R. Parks and Du Yueqiang. 2005. Collected Species of the genus Camellia. An illustrated outline. China.
  5. Japan Camellia Society. 1999. The Nomenclature of Japanese Camellias and Sasanquas (Nippon Tsubaki . Sasanqua Meikan). English Translation supervised by Thomas J. Savige.
  6. Macoboy, Stirling and Roger Mann. 1998. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Camellias. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press.
  7. Ming Tianlu. 2000. Monograph of the genus Camellia. Yunnan Science and Technology Press, Kunming, P.R. China
  8. Nuccio’s Nurseries Catalog. 2007-2008. Altadena, California.
  9. Riess Suzanne B. Toichi Domoto. A Japanese-American nurseryman’s life in California: floriculture and family, 1883-1992. Interviews Conducted by Suzanne B. Riess in 1992. The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
  10. Sealy, Robert J. 1958. A Revision of the Genus Camellia. London: The Royal Horticultural Society.
  11. Trehane, Jennifer. 2007. Camellias. The Gardener’s Encyclopedia. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press.

Photo albums of the cultivars mentioned in the article
Фотоальбомы культиваров упомянутых в статье

  1. Dwarf Shishi
  2. Enishi
  3. Camellia grijsii
  4. Camellia grijsii ‘Zhenzhucha’
  5. Jewel Box
  6. Kira Shiro Kantsubaki
  7. Camellia puniceiflora, light variety
  8. Rosy Pillar
  9. Sasanqua Compacta
  10. Shikoku Stars
  11. Silverado
  12. Slim’N’Trim
  13. Starry Pillar
  14. Tanya
  15. Twinkle, Twinkle
  16. White Dwarf Shishi
  17. Winter’s Red Rider
  18. Winter’s Rose

Camellias for Dwarfs and Elves – an article by Yuri Panchul in American Camellia Yearbook 2011

I just received a new American Camellia Yearbook 2011 in the mail and it has my article about compact sasanqua cultivars, Camellias for Dwarfs and Elves. The American Camellia Yearbook is the most prestigious periodical about camellias published by the American Camellia Society. I have an issue of every single American Camellia Yearbook since 1946 – all 66 of them. Below I made photo pictures of all pages, relevant to my article.

Я только что получил по почте новый выпуск ежегодника American Camellia Yearbook 2011, в котором напечатали мою статью про компактные культивары камелии сазанки – “Камелии для гномов и эльфов”. American Camellia Yearbook является самым престижным журналом о камелиях, который публикует Американское Общество Камелий. По количеству и качеству статей ему нет равных в мире. У меня есть каждый выпуск American Camellia Yearbook с 1946 года – все 66 книжек. Внизу я сфотографировал все страницы журнала, имеющие отношение к моей статье.

Continue reading ‘Camellias for Dwarfs and Elves – an article by Yuri Panchul in American Camellia Yearbook 2011’

An article in The Camellia Journal about the convention of American Camellia Society

I contributed some photo pictures to The Camellia Journal, a quarterly publications of the American Camellia Society (ACS). I made those pictures during the March ACS convention in Foster City, California. You can see one of the pictures published in the last issue of the magazine – a picture with the group of ACS attendies. I included both the cover of the magazine and the article about the convention below. You can see my other posts about the convention here:

Part 1. Bob Ehrhart’s Camellia Garden.
Part 2. Gallo Camellia Garden.
Part 3. Group pictures and the first reception.

All pictures are clickable:

Continue reading ‘An article in The Camellia Journal about the convention of American Camellia Society’

A new book about camellias is published in China

A new book about camellias is published in China. It is written by Shen Yinchun 沈荫椿, a Chinese American living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I (Yuri Panchul) contributed more than 30 photo pictures to this great publication. The preface is written by Barbara Tuffy, a recent president of the American Camellia Society. American camellia people usually call Shen Yinchun “Y.C. Shen” or simply “Y.C.”

Continue reading ‘A new book about camellias is published in China’

The history of camellias

The New Times magazine logo / Логотип журнала Новое ВремяRussian weekly “Novoye Vremya” (The New Times) published my article about the history of camellias in Japan, China, Europe and the United States.

Российский журнал “Новое Время” (The New Times) опубликовал мою статью об истории камелий.


To read my article in English using automatic translation by Google Translate, you can click here – http://tinyurl.com/mtroq5
Japanese – http://tinyurl.com/nzfn8e
Traditional Chinese – http://tinyurl.com/n2tegh
Simplified Chinese – http://tinyurl.com/npclos

Цветок на все времена

Романтическая красота и древность происхождения камелий стали источником множества мифов и загадочных историй, связанных с этой «царицей сада». В разные века камелия была символом и богини солнца Аматэрасу — прародительницы японских императоров, и символом Иисуса Христа, она олицетворяла то долголетие, то роковую переменчивость судьбы. При этом мало кто знает, что роскошный цветущий куст камелии — ближайший родственник чайного куста, источника экономического благополучия многих регионов Азии. Откуда взялись камелии и в чем тайна этого великолепного цветка — разбирался The New Times

Camellia— Сэр Джон поднялся наверх и принес шкатулку с драгоценностями. Когда я открыл шкатулку на столе и все собрались вокруг него, леди велела мне зажечь лампы в оранжерее, так как гости вскоре должны были идти смотреть красные камелии. Но красных камелий там не было!
— Я не понял вас.
— Они исчезли, сэр! Исчезли все до одной! — хрипло выкрикнул наш посетитель. — Когда я вошел в оранжерею, то так и прирос к мес­ту, держа лампу над головой: мне показалось, что я сошел с ума. Знаменитый куст был в полной сохранности, но от дюжины больших цветов, которыми я восхищался днем, не осталось даже лепестка.
Шерлок Холмс протянул свою длинную руку за трубкой.
— Прелестно, прелестно, — сказал он. — Эта история доставляет мне чрезвычайное удовольствие…

Адриан Конан Дойл, Джон Диксон Карр. «Рубин Авас»

Маргарита бывала на всех первых представлениях и все вечера проводила в театрах и на балах. Каждый раз, когда давалась новая пьеса, ее наверняка можно было встретить в театре с тремя вещами, с которыми она никогда не расставалась и которые лежали всегда на барьере ее ложи в бенуаре: с лорнетом, коробкой конфет и букетом камелий.
В течение двадцати пяти дней каждого месяца камелии были белые, а остальные пять дней они были красные, никому не известна была причина, почему цветы менялись…

Александр Дюма-сын. «Дама с камелиями»

Камелии — самый яркий пример разницы в восприятии красоты на Востоке и на Западе. Если поставить рядом цветки, которые были популярны среди японских самураев, и те, которыми любовались английские аристократы XIX века, то может показаться, что перед нами совсем разные растения. Но и те и другие прекрасны.

Цветок самураев

CamelliaПервое упоминание о камелиях относится к I веку нашей эры, когда губернатор провинции острова Кюсю лично прикончил главарей банды преступников дубиной, сделанной из древесины камелии. С тех пор эта часть Кюсю называется Цубаки по японскому названию камелии японской (Camellia japonica), а само поле битвы названо «Кровавое поле». Возможно, в названии отразилось то, что цветки дикой Цубаки — ярко-красного цвета, а первый в истории белый цветок этого вида появился только в VII веке и вызвал такой интерес, что его даже принесли показать императору Тэмму.
Continue reading ‘The history of camellias’

American Camellia Society – 2009 Annual Meeting. Part 3. Group pictures and the first reception.

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2.

Back in March 19-21 I attended the annual meeting of the American Camellia Society. This year it was in Foster City near San Francisco. You can also read about the event on the website of the American Camellia Society.

At the end of the conference I made two group photos. You can click to enlarge:

I also made many photo pictures of the conference attendees during the first reception on March 19:

Continue reading ‘American Camellia Society – 2009 Annual Meeting. Part 3. Group pictures and the first reception.’

American Camellia Society – 2009 Annual Meeting. Part 2. Gallo Camellia Garden.

Continued from Part 1.

Back in March 19-21 I attended the annual meeting of the American Camellia Society. This year it was in Foster City near San Francisco. On Saturday, March 21 all the conference attendees went to the city of Modesto, California for the National Camellia Show hosted this year by the Camellia Society of Modesto. The show was in the Administrative Building of Gallo Winery. As a part of the conference we took a tour in the beautiful Gallo Camellia Garden and had a party inside Gallo Wine Cellar. You can also read about the event on the website of the American Camellia Society.

My photo pictures of the Gallo Camellia Garden, National Show and Gallo Wine Cellar:

Continue reading ‘American Camellia Society – 2009 Annual Meeting. Part 2. Gallo Camellia Garden.’

American Camellia Society – 2009 Annual Meeting. Part 1. Bob Ehrhart’s Camellia Garden.

Back in March 19-21 I attended the annual meeting of the American Camellia Society. This year it was in Foster City near San Francisco. During the first day we went to the garden of Robert and Linda Ehrhart in Walnut Creek, California. Bob Ehrhart’s garden is one of the largest private collections in the United States. It has several thousand large plants growing mostly in containers. Bob’s website is www.camelliagrower.com. You can also read about Bob Ehrhart on the website of the American Camellia Society.

My photo pictures of the event:

Continue reading ‘American Camellia Society – 2009 Annual Meeting. Part 1. Bob Ehrhart’s Camellia Garden.’

The Fall Meeting at Filoli Garden in California

Organized by the American Camellia Society


John Wang. Bark Grafting.
John Wang. My Thoughts and Discipline on Camellia Breeding.
Gene Phillips. The Importance of Tea in our Gardens.


Clayton Mathis. Techniques of Rooting Cuttings and Air Layering Camellias.
Tom Nuccio. Techniques of Rooting Cuttings and Grafting.
John Wang. Bark Grafting Techniques from China and Taiwan.


Neiman Marcus, Amorepacific beauty products made with Camellias
Megiston Health Foods, Madeline Lee, Organic tea oils made with Camellias

John Wang:

John Wang, Filoli Garden, California, September 8, 2007

Gene Phillips:

Gene Phillips, Filoli Garden, California, September 8, 2007

Tom Nuccio:

Tom Nuccio, Filoli Garden, California, September 8, 2007

Continue reading ‘The Fall Meeting at Filoli Garden in California’