Camellia sinensis (Tea)

Growing with a woody, monopodial form, Tea plants can form dense hedges in appropriate zones. Their (usually terminal) leaves are used to product the commercially sold tea products in today’s age. While their usefulness tends to dip around 40 years old, some have survived up to 100 years. Seed propagation is less successful and expedient than vegetative reproduction by cuttings.

Camellia sinensis (Tea)
Family: Theaceae
Subspecies: var. sinensis, var. assamica (larger, less serrate foliage)
Native: Himalayas/China
Hardiness Zones: 7-9 (to 6a with protection)
Height: to 4.5 meters
Diameter: to 3 meters
Root System: taproot, primary to 3 meters deep (typically smaller)
Growth Rate: faster than C. japonica but still quite slow
Age: perennial
Deciduous: no
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious, hermaphroditic flowers
Monocot/dicot: dicot

Tolerates: high altitude pressures
Problems (major): numerous fungal infections (leaf spot, petal blight, black mold, anthracnose, cankers, root rots), viral
infections, chlorosis (amend with iron chelates to the soil), scale, intolerant of flooding and drought
Problems (minor): susceptible to breakage, leaf scorch, requires cold period during winter (7-15 C) if indoors, aphids, spider
mites, planthoppers
Poisonous: contains tannins, ingestion correlated with increased risks of cancer
Soil requirements: prefers acidic, well-drained soils with a large organic layer, performs poorly if planted deep in the soil,
appreciates light even fertilizers every other month
Air requirements: susceptible to breakage/reduced leaf growth/leaf browning from powerful winds, must be between 13 degrees and 35
Celsius for growth
Watering requirement: moderate
Sun requirement: partial sun or part shade (full sun can scorch leaves and dwarf size)
Leaves: alternate, margins serrate, elliptical to oblanceolate, glossy, leathery, light turning deep green, to 13cm long by 5cm wide
Flower structure: hermaphroditic, arise from leaf axils singly or in clusters, 5-7 sepals and white petals, yellow anthers/carpels,
to 14cm wide
Flowering frequency: October-December
Fruit type: 3-lobed capsule with 1 or 2 seeds requiring 12 months to mature fully, shiny, smooth,to 2cm wide
Fruit dispersal: likely birds
Subterranean storage organ: thick taproot

Notable characteristics:
The leaves and buds from this plant and its cultivars are used in tea production.

The terminal buds and leaves from C. sinensis are used to produce tea leaves sold commercially today. Where conditions apply, these
can make effective dense hedges. The caffeine present in the foliage is used as a stimulant.

Sources used:


Camellia sinensis at SIUC’s Plant Biology Greenhouse
20151206_111830 C. sinensis form (SIUC PLB greenhouse)
Camellia_ C. japonica cultivar at the Missouri Botanical GardensCamellia_japonica_'C.M._Wilson'

C. japonica ‘C.M. Wilson’ cultivar at MoBot

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this
article/online journal is appropriately cited first.


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