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CAMELLIA nitidissima

Image of Camellia nitidissima

James Burghardt



Botanical Name

CAMELLIA nitidissima

Plant Common Name

Yellow Camellia

General Description

For generations, western horticulturists had only heard of the seemingly mythical, yellow-flowered camellia. The seeds of Camellia nitidissima were finally released from China in the 1970s, much to the surprise and pleasure of the botanical and horticultural communities. This broadleaf evergreen shrub to small tree is native to a small, narrow area in the highland forests of southwestern China and northern Vietnam.

The leathery, elongated, oval leaves of this species are glossy, emerald green and have dimpled veins across the surface. The unique leaves almost resemble the foliage of tropical gardenias or coffee trees. Flowering occurs from from midwinter to mid-spring. The cup-shaped, waxy blooms are light to canary yellow and semi-double and comprised of petals that curve inward like those of a rose. In the center of each blossom is a dense cluster of golden-orange stamens. New foliage unfolds in both spring and autumn.

Grow the yellow camellia in partial to bright full shade, with midday shade being most essential. Evenly moist, slightly acid soil with ample drainage is ideal. As with other camellias, this species is slow-growing, slow to establish and shallow rooted. Provide a layer of organic mulch to protect the roots. Regular irrigation and light applications of fertilizer promote good growth and flowering during the growing months. Prune after flowering ceases, just before new growth starts. This rare camellia is best grown outdoors in frost-free regions with dry winters and hot, humid, rainy summers. Occastional but short-lived winter freezes will cause flower buds to drop, but the shrub itself will recover in springtime. These climatic conditions can be replicated in the greenhouse with attention and care.

This species does not cross well with other species and is therefore not used as a parent in hybrid crosses.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    8, 9, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Broadleaf Evergreen

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Shade, Full Shade

  • Height

    8'-18' / 2.4m - 5.5m

  • Width

    6'-12' / 1.8m - 3.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Southeastern Asia, China

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    Light Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Copper

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Tan, Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture


  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Self-Sowing