Herb: Camellia

Latin name: Camellia japonica

Synonyms: Thea japonica

Family: Theaceae (Tea Family)

Medicinal use of Camellia:

The flowers are astringent, antihaemorrhagic, haemostatic, salve and tonic. When mixed with sesame oil they are used in the treatment of burns and scalds. The plant has shown anticancer activity.

Description of the plant:


10 m
(33 feet)

to June

Habitat of the herb:

Woods in hills and down to sea level near the coast in C. and S. Japan.

Edible parts of Camellia:

An edible oil is obtained from the seed. It is called "tsubaki oil". Dried flowers - cooked. Used as a vegetable or mixed with gelatinous-rice to make a Japanese food called "mochi". The leaves are a tea substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

A non-drying oil is obtained from the seed - used as a hair-dressing. The oil consists mainly of olein it is not subject to polymerize or oxidize, nor does it form solids at low temperatures. A green dye is obtained from the pink or red petals.

Propagation of Camellia:

Seed - can be sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water and the hard covering around the micropyle should be filed down to leave a thin covering. It usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 23C. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions when they are more than 15cm tall and give them some protection from winter cold for their first year or three outdoors. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 10 - 15cm with a heel, August/September in a shaded frame. High percentage but slow. Cuttings of firm wood, 7 - 10cm with a heel, end of June in a frame. Keep in a cool greenhouse for the first year. Leaf-bud cuttings, July/August in a frame.

Cultivation of the herb:

Woods in hills and down to sea level near the coast in C. and S. Japan.

Known hazards of Camellia japonica:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.