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Camellia, Tea-Oil Plant
Camellia oleifera

Family: Theaceae (tee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Camellia (kuh-MEE-lee-a) (Info)
Species: oleifera (oh-lee-IF-er-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Camellia drupifera
Synonym:Thea oleifera
» View all varieties of Camellias




15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Fall/Early Winter

Mid Winter





Other details:

Flowers are fragrant

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Provides winter interest

Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Scarify seed before sowing

By grafting

By budding

By air layering

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Goleta, California

Wynnewood, Pennsylvania

Blaine, Washington

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 24, 2009, fel from Wynnewood, PA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I received a tiny seedling as a free dividend at an arboretum. At two years old, my plant is about 1.5 feet high. It has not yet bloomed, but it is healthy and does not seem bothered by winters. I have it growing in partial shade, in an area with minimal direct sunlight. It likes acid soil and bark mulch. I'll report back when it blooms.


On Mar 31, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

C. oleifera is a popular species in China and Japan, but still not very known in the Occident. Here we have hybrids of C. oleifera and C. sasanqua (hardy hybrids, btw) at most. In China, the seeds of this species are used to obtain an oil, and the leaves are often used as an alternative to the traditional tea. The white, average sized, 5-petals flowers are atractive.

Edited to add that the seed oil has a very bad taste, and had better be used as a combustible oil