Camellia oleifera

Common Name: camellia 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Theaceae
Native Range: China, Indochina
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 20.00 feet
Bloom Time: March
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Best grown in moist, acidic, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Perhaps best in sun dappled part shade. This camellia is reliably winter hardy to USDA Zone 7, and will usually not survive harsh winters in St. Louis where it is not recommended for planting. It is the hardiest of the species of camellia, however, and growth in the St. Louis area could be successful over a number of winters if planted in an extremely protected microclimate and given a good root mulch.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Camellia oleifera, commonly called tea-oil camellia, is an evergreen shrub that typically grows 10-20' tall and features elliptic to obovate, serrate, glossy dark green leaves (to 3" long). Fragrant white flowers (2" diameter) bloom October to January in warm winter climates of the deep South. In the St. Louis area, it is expected that the plants may bloom in early spring. Native to China where it is cultivated for the oil derived from its seeds which is used in cooking. Camellia oleifera

Genus name honors Georg Joseph Camel (1661-1706), a German Jesuit missionary to the Philippines who was noted for his work on Oriental plants.

Specific epithet means oil-bearing.

'Lu Shan Snow' is a National Arboretum introduction that reportedly has survived winter temperatures of minus 10°F.


Camellias are susceptible to a number of fungal diseases including leaf spots, black mold, flower blight, canker and root rot. Scale can be a troublesome insect pest.


In St. Louis, best planted in protected locations around homes, foundations and patios. Good specimen shrub for lawns, shrub borders and around homes in the deep South.