Thursday, 4 October 2012

Camellia Breeding

Endangered Plants-Camellias

Camellias are evergreen and small trees up to 20 meters tall. Their leaves are alternately arranged, simple, thick, serrated, and usually glossy. Their flowers are usually large and conspicuous, one to 12 cm in diameter, with five to nine petals in naturally occurring species of camellias. The colors of the flowers vary from white through pink colors to red; truly yellow flowers are found only in South China and North Vietnam. Camellia flowersthroughout the genus are characterized by a dense bouquet of conspicuous yellow stamens, often contrasting with the petal colors. The so-called "fruit" of camellia plants is a dry capsule, sometimes subdivided in up to five compartments, each compartment containing up to eight seeds.

The various species of camellia plants are generally well-adapted to acidic soils rich in humus, and most species do not grow well on chalky soil or other calcium-rich soils. Most species of camellias also require a large amount of water, either from natural rainfall or from irrigation, and the plants will not tolerate droughts. However, some of the more unusual camellias – typically species from karst soils in Vietnam can grow without too much water.

Camellia plants usually have a rapid growth rate. Typically they will grow about 30 cm per year until mature – though this does vary depending on their variety and geographical location.
Camellia plants are used as food plants by the larvae of a number of Lepidoptera species; see List of Lepidoptera that feed on Camellia. Leaves of the Japanese Camellia (C. japonica) are suceptable to the fungal parasite Mycelia sterile.

Human Use it 

Camellia sinensis, the tea plant, is of major commercial importance because tea is made from its leaves. While the finest teas are produced by C. sinensis courtesy of millennia of selective breeding of this species, many other camellias can be used to produce a similar beverage. For example, in some parts of Japan, tea made from C. sasanqua leaves is popular.
Tea oil is a sweet seasoning and cooking oil made by pressing the seeds of C. oleifera, C. japonica, and to a lesser extent other species such as C. crapnelliana, C. reticulata, C. sasanqua and C. sinensis. Relatively little-known outside East Asia, it is the most important cooking oil for hundreds of millions of people, particularly in southern China.