I got this plant from Tom Nuccio. Tom told me that he got it from a person named Perkins under the name ‘Gingetsu’. Obviously this plant is not ‘Gingetsu’ because the real ‘Gingetsu’ is a well-known white Camellia sasanqua, from Higo-sazanka group of cultivars, originated in Japanese province of Kumamoto.
I suspect this misnamed ‘Gingetsu Perkins’ might be a cross between C. sasanqua and C. reticulata. Its flower size is unusually big for sasanqua, but it has a good sun tolerange. It is also fast growing, upright and somewhat loose. It is much easier to cross C. sasanqua with C. reticulata than to cross C. sasanqua with C. japonica because of their chromosome counts. Both C. sasanqua and C. reticulata usually have 90 chromosomes, while C. japonica – just 30. For more information about Camellia chromosomes see Camellia sasanqua botany (with pictures).
One of my ‘Gingetsu Perkins’ plants got what looks like a bud mutation, and produced a flower with petaloids:
This new little camellia looks very unusual for anybody except probably a hardcore Camellia botanist. The flowers of ‘Tiny Gem’ are tiny, stamens have orangish tint, small dark leaves are unusually serrated, stem nodes and internodes do not look like anything in japonica-sasanqua-reticulata world. In addition, ‘Tiny Gem’s’ growth habit is chaotic and the plant requires full shade to grow well.
According to Tom Nuccio, the originator of ‘Tiny Gem’, this plant is likely to be a seedling of C. fraterna, a species from Theopsys section of Camellia genus. Now if we look into Ming Tien Lu’s book about camellia species, we find that Theopsys clade is very distant from Paracamellia clade where C. sasanqua belongs. In fact, Theopsys is much closer to tea plant – Camellia sinensis of Thea section of the genus.
Therefore it is unlikely I can ever cross any relative of C. sasanqua with ‘Tiny Gem’. So I don’t need this cultivar. But if you like strange compact plants for your shady patio, this plant might be just right for you. If you live in northern California and want to get this plant from me – see the details at ANNUAL GIVEAWAY OF CAMELLIAS