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Camellia Meaning and the History of Green Tea

Camellia Flower Meaning

Camellia meaning is based in both its unique botany and the traditions of China and Japan. The symmetrical beauty and long-lasting qualities of the camellia have long been appreciated by young lovers as a token for expressing devotion to each other. Camellia meaning includes love, affection, and admiration. Learn about other flowers meaning love.

Camellia Name Meaning

Camellia means “helper to the priest” in Latin, named after pharmaceutical botanist George Kamel. Kamel never personally worked with camellias but the flower was named after him by Carl Linnaeus in commemoration of Kamel’s contributions to the field.

Camellia Meaning as Everlasting Love

The calyx of the camellia falls with the petals when the flower has finished blooming. This is unlike most other flowers, where the calyx seems to hang around the tree even after the petals have dropped. This phenomena made the camellia flower meaning a symbol of everlasting union between lovers. 

Camellia Meaning in Japan

In Japan, camellias are called the “tree with the shining leaves.” In the Shinto religion, the gods are thought to make camellia flowers their homes when they come to earth for a visit. For this reason, temple grounds and gardens as well as graveyards and other sacred places have often been graced by camellias.

Camellia Meaning in China

In many parts of China, the camellia is the favored flower for young sons and daughters. The camellia is the most popular and highly respected flower in Southwest China.

Camellias are honored as the national flower for the ancient southern kingdom, Dai Li. In a land marked by steep hills and roaring rapids, the camellia transforms the hills and valleys into oceans of red and white in early spring.

For the Chinese, the petals reflect the spirit of a lady, and the holder of the petals (the calyx) represents the young man entrusted by the lady as her protector. The two components are joined together, even after death. The calyx and petals stay together when the flowers fall from the plant, thus symbolizing everlasting love or long-lasting devotion.

Camellia Flower Color Meaning

Camellias come in red, white and pink. Red camellias symbolize love, passion, and desire. White camellias symbolize adoration or admiration. Pink camellias symbolize longing.

Camellia Flower Meaning

Read more about red flower color meaning.

Camellia Meaning in Europe

Camellias were introduced to Europe via Portugal in the 16th century but didn’t gain popularity until they came to England in the early 18th century. James Petiver, apothecary, described in 1702, a plant with a red flower named Thea Chinensis however it is believed that the British were actually in search of the tea plant variety. They ended up cultivating “camellia Japonica”, the ornamental shrub famed in Japan, which became popular with the royalty in Europe.

The Healing Power of Camellias and Green Tea

There is a form of camellias known as the tea plant that has been grown in China and Japan for over 5,000 years. Most green and black teas are made from the dried leaves and petals of the camellia sinensis plant. Green tea is made directly from the dried leaves, black tea with an added fermentation stage.

Green tea is known for as a healthy alternative to coffee due to its moderate caffeine content and many health benefits. Green tea may lower cholesterol, reduce heart disease, and boost metabolism. Camellia seeds are also pressed to make tea oil which is used as a seasoning, a cooking oil, and even as a method for cleaning and protecting the blades of many cutting tools.

Caring for Camellias

Camellias are large plants that do not need direct light. These hard, wooded plants are often grown in pots. Plants should be repotted after the dormant season before they begin to grow again. Camellias can be repotted as often as needed and should be watered abundantly as they start to grow.

Camellias should also have an occasional showering or washing to remove dust from their leaves. Liquid manure is one of the best fertilizers to use for camellias, though it should only be applied when they are dormant or growing but not during the blossoming season. Otherwise the buds may be over stimulated and will be turned into leaves instead of flowers.

Best Growing Conditions for Camellias

There are over 200 species of camellias, all native to Asia. During the winter, camellias can handle a considerable amount of cold, even below freezing temperatures, for very short time periods. Once the plant has begun to grow and then to blossom, it needs a great deal of heat. Camellias generally blossom very fully, then rest a few days or even a week. Once the flower buds have formed, the amount of water and heat can be diminished.

More Flower Symbolism

Explore the meaning of flower colors, the history of the Victorian language of flowers, the symbolic meaning of flowers in art and over a dozen articles on specific flowers on this website. More on the web: Top 15 Most Exotic Flowers Around the World. Brighten up any space with gifts and decor featuring beautiful flowers! Find posters, prints, canvases and more. See all floral art & gifts.

Floral Art & Gifts

Floral artwork and gifts on this site are based on paintings by Kathleen Karlsen. Other prints and gifts including yoga symbols, Eastern deities and more are based on illustrations by Rose Karlsen and Sammy Ater. See all ARTWORK categories and products.

Author Kathleen Karlsen

Kathleen Karlsen Sacred Mantras & Symbolic Art

Kathleen Karlsen is the author of the book Flower Symbols: The Language of Love. This handy reference book includes extensive flower meanings and folklore about the world’s most beloved flowers. Flower Symbols is the perfect gift for yourself or a flower lover in your life! 

Kathleen is a writer, artist and musician living in Bozeman, Montana. She is the mother of five kids (teen to adult) and the author of two books. Kathleen’s other book is Vocal Medicine: Transformation through Sound. Listen to Kathleen’s MUSIC and see more of her ARTWORK

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