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Featured Plant

 

 

Camellia

 

Camellia, a genus of Evergreen flowering shrubs or small trees in the Theaceae or tea family, was named by 18th century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in honor of Georg Joseph Kamel, a 17th century Jesuit missionary and botanist who introduced many Asian plants to Europe. All species are native to temperate and tropical parts of eastern and southern Asia. Ornamental types have been grown in the gardens of China and Japan for centuries and were imported to Europe in the mid-1700’s, where they were an instant hit. According to the American Camellia Society there are several hundred camellia species, and thousands of hybrids and cultivars. The most famous member, though, is often not recognized as a camellia—the tea plant  (Camellia sinensis), an agricultural crop. Others, popular in the U.S. as ornamental plants, are C. japonica (Japanese camellia) and C. sasanqua (sasanqua camellia).

 

Cultivars and hybrids of both of C. sinensis and C. japonica are represented on our campus. Be sure to walk over to Morrill Quad on the south side of Tydings Hall to see our main camellia collection, planted in 2009. This collection is remarkable because it features a number of selections resulting from Dr. William Ackerman’s breeding for cold tolerance at the U.S. National Arboretum that included C. oleifera in the mix. In the past, available camellias were not reliably cold hardy, and freezing temperatures at the wrong time would destroy the bloom or kill the plant. Thus, these cold-hardy introductions were welcomed more northern gardeners. The plants in the Tydings Hall collection were supplied by Cam Too Camellia Nursery in Greensboro, NC, and funding for the planting was provided by a grant from the Arbor Day Foundation made available to UMD because we are a Tree Campus USA certified campus.

 

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