95. Camellia oleifera C. Abel, Narr. Journey China. 174. 1818.
油茶 you cha
Camellia oleifera var. monosperma Hung T. Chang; C. drupifera Loureiro f. biflora (Hayata) S. S. Ying; Thea biflora Hayata; T. oleifera (C. Abel) Rehder & E. H. Wilson; T. podogyna H. Léveillé; T. sasanqua (Thunberg) Cels var. loureiroi Pierre.
Shrubs or trees, 1-5(-8) m tall. Young branches grayish brown; current year branchlets reddish brown, pubescent. Petiole 5-10 mm, pubescent; leaf blade elliptic, oblong-elliptic, or obovate, 3-10(-12) × 2-4(-5) cm, leathery to rigidly leathery, abaxially pale green, sparsely pilose along midvein or glabrous, and becoming yellowish green when dry, adaxially dark green, shiny, and hirtellous along midvein, midvein raised on both surfaces, secondary veins 5-8 on each side of midvein, abaxially obscure, and adaxially raised, base broadly cuneate to cuneate, margin serrate to serrulate, apex acute to acuminate and with an obtuse tip. Flowers axillary or subterminal, solitary or paired, 4-6 cm in diam., subsessile. Bracteoles and sepals 8-11, caducous; outer bracteoles and sepals lunate to semiorbicular, scalelike, 1-3 mm, glabrous or subglabrous; inner bracteoles and sepals obovate to suborbicular, 0.9-1.2 cm, outside yellow tomentose, inside glabrous, margin membranous and ciliolate. Petals 5-7, white, nearly distinct, obovate, oblong-obovate, or oblanceolate, 2.5-3.5(-4.5) × 1.5-2.5(-3) cm, apically 2-parted. Stamens ca. 1.5 cm, glabrous; outer filament whorl basally connate for ca. 5 mm. Ovary globose, 2-3 mm in diam., white tomentose, 3-loculed; style 0.8-1.2 cm, glabrous or base tomentose, apically 3-lobed to 3-parted. Capsule globose to ellipsoid, 2-4 cm in diam., 1-3-loculed with 1 or 2 seeds per locule; pericarp 3-6 mm thick, villous, splitting into 2 or 3 valves. Seeds brown to reddish brown, globose to semiglobose, 1.5-2 cm in diam. Fl. Dec-Jan, fr. Sep-Oct. 2n = 30, 45, 60, 90.
Forests, thickets; (200-)500-1800 m. Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, S Shaanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang [N Laos, N Myanmar, N Vietnam].
This species is extensively cultivated as an oil seed. Because of its long cultivation in China, it is often difficult to know if particular collections are wild, cultivated, or escaped. For this reason the original wild distribution is uncertain although it is possibly in the region of S Qin Ling to the Huai He valley. Camellia oleifera is the hardiest species in the genus and has the farthest north distribution.