Pretty Odd Camelia

An intriguing camellia species from Vietnam is now in flower in the Camellia Garden around Rathborne Lodge in the Royal Botanic Gardens (enter via Woolloomooloo Gate).

In 2007, a snip of Camellia amplexicaulis was donated to the Botanic Gardens by camellia collector and grower extraordinaire, Bob Cherry. Our horticulturalist Phil Pettitt successfully grafted the cutting, and you can now see it in full bloom.

This species has some of the longest leaves in the genus, sometimes over 25 cm, and as the name ‘amplexicaulis’ implies (in Latin), they embrace the stems at their base. The new growth is crimson or bronze coloured.

In bloom it’s equally striking, with goblet-shaped flowers that are pink or red with a purplish tinge. Although naturally a summer-autumn flowerer, it can flower at any time, as evidenced by this photo taken last week at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Thanks to Simon Goodwin for the image (which shows a flower a little more open than usual) and link to more background on this species.