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Column "Camellia" part 2

Camellia japonica and European camellia

Camellia japonica has been so popular as a garden tree that people regard it as one of the typical flower trees of Japan. Among about 250 species of the genus Camellia, which is distributed mainly from southeast Asia to China, japonica grows at northern limit of this range. It is native to the Japanese archipelago and is distributed over all of Japan except for Hokkaido. It is said that the Japanese name “Tsubaki” came from “Atsubagi(a tree with thick leaves)” or “Tsuyabagi(a tree with glossy leaves)”. The Kanji for “Tsubaki(椿)”, which consists of the kanji for wood(木) and spring(春), stands for another tree in Chinise(the Chinese cedar). Camellia japonica has influenced the daily life of Japanese people for a long time. When a Japanese envoy was dispatched to China during Tang Dynasty, they carried camellia oils with them. Because Camellia japonica is resistant to wind, fire, and salty winds, it was planted around the house or farm to serve as a wind breaker, especially in Oshima. People made high-grade charcoals from its wood and extracted oil for cooking and making cosmetics. Furthermore, its flowers have been considered important and indispensable for the tea ceremony. Since Camellia japonica was brought to Europe in the 17th century, many cultivars have been invented. Now, cultivars of camellia number 2,400 in Japan. and over 20,000 cultivars are registered worldwide. Among them the Metropolitan Oshima Park is exhibiting about 1000 cultivars.


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