Camellia petelotii var. petelotii
Common Name: yellow camellia 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Theaceae
Native Range: Southern China
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 6.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 7.00 feet
Bloom Time: December to March
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10 where this evergreen shrub is typically grown in organically rich, acidic, well-drained soils with consistent moisture in part shade locations. Established plants do well with moderate but even moisture. Plants appreciate protection from early morning sun and from direct hot afternoon sun. They often thrive in sun-dappled part shade conditions under the protection of tree canopies. Protection from strong winds is also important. Apply a root mulch (leaves or shredded bark). Prune after flowering to thin branching and to control size and shape. Most camellias are purchased in pots. When transplanting them into the garden, it is important to not plant them too deep (soil level of the ground should be the same as the soil level in the pot). Plants may be effectively grown in tubs or other large containers. This camellia is not reliably winter hardy to the St. Louis area (USDA Zone 6a). It may be grown in containers that are overwintered in a cool greenhouse where necessary growing conditions (including bright light and cool winter temperatures of 45-60 degrees F) can be met.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Camellia petelotii var. petelotii is native to dense forests in southern China and Viet Nam. It emerged from China in the 1970s as the first yellow-flowered camellia. It is synonymous with and formerly known as Camellia chrysantha, but has generally been designated as Camellia nitidissima since 1991. It typically grows as a shrub to 6-10' tall (to 15' in the wild). Solitary, fragrant, golden yellow flowers (to 2" across) with 8-12 petals and bushy yellow center stamens bloom from mid-winter to spring. Glossy, elliptic-oblong, evergreen leaves (to 5" long) emerge with purple tints but mature to dark green. New yellow-flowered hybrids are very difficult to produce in large part because this species does not hybridize well.

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


Camellias are susceptible to a number of fungal diseases including leaf spots, anthracnose, viruses, black mold, petal blight, canker and root rot. If petal blight occurs (browning that runs from edges to the center), all infected plant parts should be promptly removed. Yellow leaves with green veins may indicate chlorosis which can be treated by adding iron/iron chelates to the soil. Scale can be a troublesome insect pest. Watch for aphids, planthoppers and spider mites.


Where winter hardy, this camellia is an excellent flowering evergreen shrub (specimen or in small groups) that provides exciting winter to spring bloom for woodland gardens, shrub borders, backgrounds, lawns and around homes. It may be trimmed as a hedge.