Keep An Eye Out For This Incredible Camellia

During winter and spring, camellias are a welcome sight, a flowering evergreen with dark, glossy leaves and squat, plump flowers. The so-called “roses of winter” look something like a cross between a rose and a peony, with layers of soft petals in delicate hues. In China, camellias’ native land, the flowers symbolize abiding commitment and devotion because of their perfect symmetry. Japan assigns a similar meaning to camellias (sometimes known as a “Japanese Rose”) in their own language of flowers (hanakotoba). The different colors of camellias correspond to different intentions: red camellias represent being in love, white camellias signify waiting, and yellow camellias connote longing.

There is one camellia, however, that stands out even among its the very beautiful Camellia genus: the Eighteen Scholars Camellia, a variation of Camellia japonica. According to legend, a simple bloom can hold as many as 130 petals. The name derives from the fact that the Eighteen Scholars camellia bush will often grow eighteen separate buds. A similar variety is known as Three Scholars Camellias, and has similarly pointed-star shape, with layers and layers of papery petals.

Both of the Scholar camellias are rare, and were brought to the US in 1955 from Taiwan. But they can now be found in permissive climates around the world (just remember if you are in the Southern hemisphere, the season is reversed). With camellia season ahead, be sure to keep an eye out!

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