Tag Archive for 'Kai Mei'

A new catalog from Camellia Forest Nursery, Fall 2008 – my review

Camellia Forest Nursery is a nursery in North Carolina managed by Kai Mei and David Parks. Kai Mei is a wife of Dr. Clifford Parks (one of the authors of “Collected Species of the Genus Camellia”, 2005) and David Parks is their son.

Mieko Tanaka

The most interesting sasanqua hybrid offered this year is a true red ‘Mieko Tanaka’. Almost all previous “red” sasanquas were actually dark pinks (for example ‘Bonanza’ and ‘Reverend Ida’). The only previous true red was ‘Yuletide’, a chance seedling of Hiryu, originated in Nuccio’s Nurseries back in 1963.

The basic problem with red color is that wild C. sasanqua has no red (or pink) pigment – anthocyanin.

According to Dr. Takayuki Tanaka and other researchers, all pink sasanqua cultivars probably originated from an ancient C. japonica x sasanqua hybrid approximately 400 years ago almost definitely in Japan. The estimation 400 years comes from chloroplast genome DNA (cpDNA) analysis. Additionally, athocyanin chromatography demonstrates that all pink sasanquas (together with x hiemalis and x vernalis hybrids) share the form of anthocyanin with C. japonica and does not have pigments specific for C. reticulata and C. saluensis.

Based on this information, Dr. Tanaka was working on sasanqua-japonica hybridization and finally he developed a cultivar ‘Mieko Tanaka’ (C. x vernalis ‘Gaisen’ x C. japonica).

Plain Jane, O’Nishiki, Winter’s Rose and Winter’s Red Rider

Another important cultivar now available for sale in Camellia Forest Nursery is C. oleifera ‘Plain Jane’. This plain white flower has two distinctive quantities.

First of all, it is one of the most cold-hardy camellias, used by Dr. William Ackerman for his cold-hardiness hybridization program. For example, Dr. Ackerman claims that his cultivar ‘Winter’s Rose’ (C. oleifera ‘Plain Jane’ x C. x hiemalis ‘Otome’) can survive winter temperatures down to -15 F / -26 C.

Second, according to Dr. Ackerman, ‘Plain Jane’ may be used to create dwarf cultivars that are useful as patio and bonsai plants. Particularly, ‘Winter’s Rose’ is also a dwarf camellia. When Dr. Ackerman crossed ‘Plain Jane’ with C. sasanqua ‘O’Nishiki’, he got 3:1 mendelian ratio between normal and dwarf seedlings. This suggested that both ‘Plain Jane’ and ‘O’Nishiki’ carry heterozygous alleles of a dwarfiness gene. (Yes, I know that both plants are hexaploids – so an additional explanation from Dr. Ackerman is needed).

Luckily I got cuttings of ‘O’Nishiki’ last Summer from Mr. Garet Uemura who lives in Hawaii. Thank you, Mr. Uemura!
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Sasanqua breeders

Well-known sasanqua breeders include:

1. Nuccio’s Nurseries’s founders Joseph and Julius Nuccio, and their children Tom, Jim, and Julius, all living in Southern California. The best-known Nuccio’s sasanqua cultivar is Yuletide – the only really red sasanqua. We wrote an article about their operation and maintain a list of sasanqua cultivars and Camellia species available from Nuccio’s.

2. Dr. William L. Ackerman studied genetics of camellias since 1960s and created cold-tolerant cultivars using Camellia oleifera as a parent. Our favorite Ackerman’s hybrid is ‘Winter’s Rose’ – a beautiful formal pink miniature sasanqua. Dr. Ackerman lives in Maryland, pictures of some of his cultivars are available on the website of a local Camellia Society of the Potomac Valley and on the website of the National Arboretum. We also prepared a photo album of some of his cultivars based on pictures Dr.Ackerman donated to us for publication.

3. Camellia Forest Nursery, Clifford Parks, David Parks and Kai Mei created sasanqua-reticulata hybrids, including ‘Kai Mei’s Choice’. Clifford Parks wrote many articles about Camellia genetics. They are located in North Carolina.

4. Paradise Plants, John Robb created beautiful sasanqua cultivars in Australia, including Paradise Sayaka
and dwarf Paradise Baby Jane. Unfortunately Paradise Camellias are not available in the United States at this moment, but will be available soon via Ball Seed Company, the contact name is Peter Kruger.

5. Tom Dodd Nurseries, Inc was started in 1920 with 40 acres of land by Tom Dodd, Sr. The nursery remained owned by the Dodd family until August of 2004 when it was purchased by Jack Williams and John Williams, owners of Twin Oaks Nursery in Wilmer, AL. Tom Dodd Nurseries introduced a dozen of new sasanqua cultivars.