One December morning (to be precise on the morning of December 9, 2009), I went to my garden and saw this beautiful scene: a Camellia sasanqua ‘Shikoku Stars’ under the frost. Don’t you think it is a Winter Wonderland? This camellia is actually not a cultivar but a selection of C. sasanqua growing in the forest in the northern part of Shikoku Island. It was collected and propagated by David or Clifford Parks from Camellia Forest Nursery:
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
Camellia oleifera is a relative of Camellia sasanqua. This gorgeous anemony-form ‘Jaune’ cultivar with a ball of yellow petaloids is very rare in the United States. Three years ago I got a scion in our local camellia club, grafted it, and finally it is blooming in my garden.
A British horticulturalist Jennifer Trehane in her camellia encyclopedia mentioned doubts whether this plant a true C. oleifera. I second this: the leaves, stems, bark (and of course petaloids) are different from other oleifera seedlings and hybrids I have in my garden. Some DNA analysis is needed to be sure.