Camellia


Botanical Name:
Camellia thea (LINK.)
Family:
Camelliaceae/Theaceae
Genus:
Camellia
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:
Ericales

Synonyms: Thea sinensis (Sims). Thea Veridis. Thea bohea. Thea stricta Jassamica. Camellia theifera (Griff.).
Part Used: Dried leaf. others decorative flowers
Other Common Names: From various places around the Web, may not be 100% correct.
An Hua Ch’A , Assam Tea , Cay , Ch’A , Green Tea , Hsueh Ch’A , Lo Chieh Ch’A , Ming , P’U Erh Ch’A , P’U T’O Ch’A , Shui Sha Lien Ch’A , Tea , Wu I Ch’A ,

Habitat: .Camellia (Chinese: pinyin: Cháhuā)  This  plant  is native to eastern and southern Asia from the Himalaya east to Japan and Indonesia. It is cultivated  in Assam, Ceylon, Japan, Java, and elsewhere where climate allows

Click to see  the pictures:

Description:
Camellias are evergreen shrubs or small trees up to 20 m (66 ft) 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 Vietnam. Camellia flowers throughout the genus are characterized by a dense bouquet of conspicuous yellow stamens, often contrasting with the petal colors. The so-called ruit” “fof 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.

The genus is generally adapted to acidic soils, and does not grow well on chalk or other calcium-rich soils. Most species also have a high rainfall requirement and will not tolerate drought. Some Camellias have been known to grow without much rainfall.

Camellia species are used as food plants by the larvae of a number of Lepidoptera species. See List of Lepidoptera that feed on Camellia.

Cultivation :
Camellia sinensis is of major commercial importance because tea is made from its leaves. Tea oil is a sweet seasoning and cooking oil made by pressing the seeds of Camellia sinensis or Camellia oleifera.

Many other camellias are grown as ornamental plants for their flowers; about 3,000 cultivars and hybrids have been selected, many with double flowers. Camellia japonica (often simply called Camellia) is the most prominent species in cultivation, with over 2,000 named cultivars; next are C. reticulata, with over 400 named cultivars, and C. sasanqua, with over 300 named cultivars. Popular hybrids include C. × hiemalis (C. japonica × C. sasanqua) and C. × williamsii (C. japonica × C. salouenensis). They are highly valued in Japan and elsewhere for their very early flowering, often among the first flowers to appear in the late winter. Late frosts can damage the flowers.

PF1022A, a metabolite of Mycelia sterile, a fungus that inhabits the leaves of Camellia japonica is chemically altered to synthesise emodepside, an anthelmintic drug.

Camellias have a slow growth rate. Typically they will grow about 30 centimetres a year until mature although this varies depending on variety and location.

Edible Uses
Colouring; Condiment; Leaves; Oil; Tea.
The leaves are infused in hot water and used as the drink that is commonly known as tea. It is widely drunk in many areas of the world. Green tea is made from the steamed and dried leaves, whilst black tea (the form most commonly drunk in the west) is made from leaves that have been fermented and then drie. Tea contains polyphenols, these are antioxidants that help to protect the body against heart diseases, stroke and cancer. It also contains the stimulant caffeine which, when taken in excess, can cause sleeplessness and irritability and also, through its action as a diuretic, act to remove nutrients from the body. Tea is also rich in tannin and is a possible cause of oesophageal cancer. Cold tea is sometimes used as a soaking liquid to flavour dried fruit. One report says that the leaves are used as a boiled vegetable. The leaves contain about 25.7% protein, 6.5% fat, 40.8% carbohydrate, 5% ash, 3.3% caffeine, 12.9% tannin.

Terminal sprouts with 2-3 leaves are usually hand-plucked, 10 kg of green shoots (75-80% water) produce about 2.5 kg dried tea. The bushes are plucked every 7-15 days, depending on the development of the tender shoots. Leaves that are slow in development always make a better flavoured product. Various techniques are used to produce black teas, usually during July and August when solar heat is most intense. Freshly picked leaves are spread very thinly and evenly on trays and placed in the sun until the leaves become very flaccid, requiring 13 hours or more, depending on heat and humidity. Other types of black teas are made by withering the leaves, rolling them into a ball and allowing to ferment in a damp place for 3-6 hours, at which time the ball turns a yellowish copper colour, with an agreeable fruity one. If this stage goes too far, the leaves become sour and unfit for tea. After fermenting, the ball is broken up and the leaves spread out on trays and dried in oven until leaves are brittle and have slight odour of tea. Tea is then stored in air-tight tin boxes or cans. As soon as harvested, leaves are steamed or heated to dry the natural sap and prevent oxidation to produce green tea. Still soft and pliable after the initial treatment, the leaves are then rolled and subjected to further firing. Thus dried, the leaves are sorted into various grades of green tea.

The flowers are made into ‘tempura’ using the edible oil that is obtained from the seed.

A clear golden-yellow edible oil resembling sasanqua oil is obtained from the seed. The oil needs to be refined before it is eaten.

An essential oil distilled from the fermented dried leaves is used as a commercial food flavouring. Tea extract is used as a flavour in alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods, gelatines, and puddings.

Tea is a potential source of food colours (black, green, orange, yellow, etc.).

Propagation:
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 23°c. 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 Seedlings take 4 – 12 years before they start to produce seed.

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There are approximately 500 seeds per kilo.

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.

Medicinal Uses

Astringent; Cardiotonic; Diuretic; Stimulant.

Stimulant, astringent. It exerts a decided influence over the nervous system, generally evinced by a feeling of comfort and exhilaration; it also causes unnatural wakefulness when taken in quantity. Taken moderately by healthy individuals it is harmless, but in excessive quantities it will produce unpleasant nervous and dyspeptic symptoms, the green variety being decidedly the more injurious. Tea is rarely used as a medicine, but, the infusion is useful to relieve neuralgic headaches.

The tea plant is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs. Modern research has shown that there are many health benefits to drinking tea, including its ability to protect the drinker from certain heart diseases. It has also been shown that drinking tea can protect the teeth from decay, because of the fluoride naturally occurring in the tea. However, the tea also contains some tannin, which is suspected of being carcinogenic.

The leaves are cardiotonic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant and astringent. They exert a decided influence over the nervous system, giving a feeling of comfort and exhilaration, but also producing an unnatural wakefulness when taken in large doses. They are used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis and gastro-enteritis. Tea is reportedly effective in clinical treatment of amoebic dysentery, bacterial dysentery, gastro-enteritis, and hepatitis. It has also been reported to have antiatherosclerotic effects and vitamin P activity. Excessive use, however, can lead to dizziness, constipation, constipation, indigestion, palpitations and insomnia. Externally, they are used as a poultice or wash to treat cuts, burns, bruises, insect bites, ophthalmia, swellings etc, Only the very young leaves and leaf buds are used, these can be harvested throughout the growing season from plants over three years old and are dried for later use.

Teabags have been poulticed onto baggy or tired eyes, compressed onto headache, or used to bathe sunburn.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Other Uses
Dye; Essential; Oil; Tannin; Wood.
An essential oil is distilled from the fermented and dried leaves. It is used in perfumery and in commercial food flavouring.

A non-drying oil is obtained from the seeds. Refined teaseed oil, made by removing the free fatty acids with caustic soda, then bleaching the oil with Fuller’s earth and a sprinkling of bone black, makes an oil suitable for use in manufacture of sanctuary or signal oil for burning purposes, and in all respects is considered a favourable substitute for rapeseed, olive, or lard oils. The oil is different from cottonseed, corn, or sesame oils in that it is a non-drying oil and is not subject to oxidation changes, thus making it very suitable for use in the textile industry; it remains liquid below -18deg.C.

A grey dye is obtained from the pink or red petals.

The leaves contain: 13 – 18% tannin. The leaves also contain quercetin, a dyestuff that, when found in other plants, is much used as a dye. The quantity of quercetin is not given.

Wood – moderately hard, close and even grained. It is very good for walking sticks

Scent
Flowers: Fresh
The flowers are deliciously scented.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/t/tea—08.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camellia
http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Camellia+sinensis

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