Description from Flora of China
Camellia gauchowensis Hung T. Chang; C. vietnamensis T. C. Huang ex Hu; Drupifera oleosa Rafinesque; Thea drupifera (Loureiro) Pierre.
Shrubs or trees, 2-8 m tall, 9-30 cm d.b.h. Young branches grayish brown; current year branchlets reddish brown, glabrous. Petiole 5-7 mm, glabrous; leaf blade elliptic to broadly elliptic, 5-12 × 3-5 cm, leathery, abaxially pale green and glabrous, adaxially dark green, shiny, and hirtellous along midvein or glabrescent, midvein raised on both surfaces, secondary veins 7-9 on each side of midvein, abaxially slightly raised, and adaxially visible, base rounded to obtuse, margin serrulate, apex acute to shortly acuminate and with an obtuse tip. Flowers solitary, axillary, fragrant, 6-7.5 cm in diam., subsessile. Bracteoles and sepals 10-12 or more, caducous, glabrous, margin ciliolate; outer bracteoles and sepals semiorbicular, 1-2 mm; inner bracteoles and sepals sepaloid, ovate to suborbicular, to 1 cm. Petals 5-8, white, nearly distinct, obovate, 3-6 × 1.5-3.5 cm, apically 2-parted for 7-10 mm. Stamens 1.2-1.7 cm, glabrous; outer filament whorl basally connate for 1-2 mm to nearly distinct. Ovary tomentose, 3-5-loculed; styles 3-5, 1-1.5 cm, glabrous, distinct nearly to base. Capsule globose to ovoid, 4-7 cm in diam., 3-5-loculed with 1-4 seeds per locule; pericarp 6-8 mm thick, woody, splitting into 3-5 valves. Seeds brown. Fl. Dec-Jan, fr. Oct. 2n = 30, 105, 120.
This species is grown as a seed oil crop. It is often uncertain if particular collections are wild, cultivated, or escaped. As is the case with several other Camellia species that are cultivated, the original distribution is uncertain.
The identity of Camellia drupifera has long been uncertain. It is an older name than either C. oleifera (1818) or C. kissii (1820) and has been considered to possibly be conspecific with one or the other of these species. Loureiro stated that for C. drupifera the capsule ("Drupa") is 4-loculed and the style 4-parted, which features do not agree with either C. oleifera or C. kissii. All of the characters described by Loureiro as well as its being grown as a seed oil plant are consistent with it being conspecific with C. gauchowensis (probably the wild ancestor with 2n = 30) and C. vietnamensis (cultivated plants with 2n = 105, 120). Although there is no extant type, the Loureiro plant was collected from a cultivated plant in Cochinchina (S Vietnam). To stabilize the nomenclature we are neotypifying the species name here: Camellia drupifera Loureiro, Fl. Cochinch. 2: 411. 1790. TYPE: China. Guangxi: Liucheng Xian, Satang Forest Station in cultivation, Jul 1956, Huang Tso-Chieh [Huang Zuo-Jie] 2042 (neotype designated here, PE) based on the holotype of C. vietnamensis T. C. Huang ex Hu (Acta Phytotax. Sin. 10: 138. 1965).
Forests, thickets; 100-700 m. SW Guangdong, S Guangxi, Hainan [Vietnam].