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Camellia sasanqua (Christmas camellia)

Christmas camellia is an attractive shrub with beautiful white to red flowers and contrasting dark green evergreen leaves.
Christmas camellia flower

Camellia sasanqua (Photo: Martyn Rix)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Camellia sasanqua Thunb.

Common name: 

Christmas camellia

Conservation status: 

Not evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria.


Forest clearings and grassy slopes on mountains.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental, culinary.

Known hazards: 

The seed are poisonous to fish.


Genus: Camellia

About this species

The genus Camellia includes over 200 species, including Camellia sinensis (tea), and many other species well known to gardeners around the world. Camellia sasanqua, which is native to Japan, is particularly valued for its autumn and winter flowering, although it prefers a mild climate and needs protection from the coldest weather.

Camellia sasanqua was named by Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828), a Swedish physician and botanist and a protégé of Linnaeus. Thunberg visited Japan (at that time closed to most Europeans) from 1775–1778 while in the employ of the Dutch East India Company, and many of the plants he saw there were described in his Flora Japonica, published in 1784.


Camellia miyagii (Koidz.) Makino & Nemoto, Camellia tegmentosa (Koidz.) Makino & Nemoto, Thea sasanqua (Thunb.) Cels


main info

Courses at Kew

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Kew offers a variety of specialist training courses in horticulture, conservation and plant science.

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