This month The International Camellia Society put two of my camellia photo pictures to the front page of their website. One is a picture of Camellia japonica ‘Kamo Honnami’ (see their website), and another is a picture of Camellia grijsii, a species related to C. sasanqua:
Camellia grijsii (长瓣短柱茶 in Chinese) Hance (1879) is a wild species of section Paracamellia. It is related to C. sasanqua, C. oleifera and C. kissii. It was collected in 1861 in Fujian by C.F.M. de Grijs. It is distributed in China (Fujian, Hubei, Sichuan, Guangxi) and used for a high-quality oil production. C. grijsii is closely related to another species – C. yuhsienensis, that is a parent of a popular cultivar ‘Yume’.
I got my two plants of C. grijsii from Nuccio’s Nurseries. The first one (shown above) has single white flowers and the second one is a double-flowered Chinese cultivar called ‘Zhenzhucha’:
Camellia grijsii ‘Zhenzhucha’
Camellia grijsii has great hybridizing potential. Two plants in my garden have small leaves with impressed veins and very columnar shape. I believe there are also varieties with larger leaves, but I am specifically interested in small-leaved cultivars.
Another great feature of C. grijsii is its cluster-flowering habit. However in my garden C. grijsii flowers from January to March, so it will be a challenge to cross it with Fall-flowering sasanquas. Probably I will have to store some pollen from sasanquas in refrigerator for a couple of months.
Another problem is chromosome number. According to Kondo and his associates it has a variety of chromosome numbers 2n = 30, 60, 75 and 90 (see the reference in Collected Species of the Genus Camellia, an Illustrated Outline by Gao Jiyin, Clifford R. Parks and Du Yuequiang).
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