Camellia for Foliage, Flowers, Fruit & Tea

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Forestry (situated in Changsha, Hunan Province, China) consider C.oliefera to bear a peculiar xylopyhyta edible oil. In a paper of September 2001 Chen Yong-Zhong and Wang De-bin outline the selections and efforts to improve the productive stock in the last 30 years. There is untapped potential for collaboration with the Academy. It is a cash starved institution researching oil offering only part-known qualities. At the moment tea-seed oil has been temporarily eclipsed by cheaper sources for culinary, lubrication and myriad uses. Annual production of this oil is estimated at between 25,000-28,000 metric tonnes in China. (Japan calls the oil Tsubaki).

Cosmetic manufacturers claim that camellia oil can be applied on the face, neck and hands with highly beneficial results.

Light and colourless, Camellia oil is a preferred anti-corrosion coating for woodworking tools. Camellia oil is so similar to olive oil that it has been used as an adulterant to the latter although it could actually be superior to olive products.

The pruning applied to normal tea plants discourages the formation of the tea-seed from which the oil is extracted. Oil lies within the kernel, which makes up some 70% of the seed weight. The oil can be refined for edible purposes but the oilcake produced as a by-product of oil extraction is unsuitable as animal feed due to its saponin content. It is used as an insecticide in China

There is a lack of reliable information for production and yield, varieties, major pests and diseases or for post harvest by-products.

I have now ruled out camellia oil as a potential area for development in the UK at this point in time.

4)  Fruit

Fruit is also a niche item sought by florists. It is a small apple-like fruit often coloured red, hard and usually glossy. The seeds within are frequently immature or non-existent in our climate. Certain varieties, such as "Adolphe Auddusson", set seed frequently while others may seed only when weather is hotter or when stress in the environment such as drought and disease may trigger it. Seedlings raised as a result of open pollination have given rise to most of the hybrids in cultivation.

I did not find any evidence to suggest any development potential for camellia fruit in the UK, so it is not mentioned again in this Report.

5)  Tea

Tea forms the main body of the study and this report. However, the other Camellia products may adopt strategies in common with tea that will realise benefits in a shorter term.

Tea, including green tea, is always Camellia derived. All other herbal beverages should not be called tea, rather tisanes (see point 9, Herbal Infusions). Tea types are mainly created by processing and then by plant varietal differences.

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