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The Conservation and Cultivation of Yellow Camellia Species

Chinmei Hung 2, Shihlin Lee1,2
1 Dr. Cecilia Koo Botanic Conservation and Environment Protection Foundation
2 Guangdong Camellia Germplasm Bank of Research Institute of Forestry of Foshan City


Plants are very important resources for human beings. In recent decades, the awareness of the ecosystems sustainability and wildlife conservation are increasing. The plant populations in the field were rapid decreased and disappeared because of habitat destruction including natural disasters, such as drought, storms, landslides, or earthquakes, and artificial deforestation and illegal denudation also increased the speed of species extinction. How to protect species and avoid facing extinction stress becomes an important topic, therefore, the concepts of plant conservation are getting more attention.

The main strategies of plant conservation include three different treatments:

        1. In-situ conservation of endangered plant species. The establishment of protected area or natural park.

        2. The establishment of refrigeration equipment to keep seeds, such as seed banks.

        3. Collection of wild plant species, and select the appropriate region to establish green house to nurture.

The different methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Theoretically, in-situ conservation is the best method to avoid habitat destruction and maintain population in the wild naturally. However, the speed of habitat lost is much higher than protection. Thus, during past five years, KBCC adapted the third strategy to conserve plants, and improved cultivate technique, also, shared the results to others.

The distribution of Yellow Camellia

There are 62 kinds of yellow Camellia species (including variants and not officially published) - 22 in Vietnam, 36 in Guangxi, 2 in Guizhou, 1 in Yunnan , and 1 in Sichuan (Chang, 1981; Chang and Ren, 1981; Min, 2000; Liang and Lu, 2005; Kao, 2005)- distributed from the southern Guangxi to Vietnam. Moreover, from Nanning to Hanoi is the most intensive distributed area where is high temperature, high humidity, and low photo-intense environment. The large number of species appeared at low altitude (50 to 800 meters). But, it is still distributed at altitude from 300m to 1800m in Maguan Yunnan, and the new species is discovering in this area.

Xiashi wild stand Damdao Park

A Yellow Camellia Individual Plant at Xiashi wild stand
(Left: Mr. Li Zhihui, Mid: Mr.Huang Liandong)

A Yellow Camellia at a bamboo stand of Damdao Park
(Upper: Mr. Huang Liandong)

Thai Nguyen Vietnam

A Yellow Camellia naturally grown at gap of
rocks in Thai Nguyen Vietnam

In the field observations from Fusui, Pingxiang, Longzhou to Vietnam Lang Son, Taiyuan, and Tomdao, we found Yellow Camellia seedling grow out from the gap between rocks. These seedlings are slender and appeared under low population density, not like other Camellia Section and Theopsis Section have stout branch and continuously distributed.

The protection of Yellow Camellia

The Yellow Camellia populations are small and limiting in few areas due to environmental restrictions, therefore, the conservation of Yellow Camellia must be necessary and immediately. The sudden changes in the natural environment will be several species disappear; therefore, we should inhibit over deforestation and illegal denudation, and also forbid trading in wild plants. Furthermore, educate farmers to harvest seeds from wild trees or adapt cutting propagation for nurture saplings.

The offsite protection for Yellow Camellia is the actively promoting project in Conservation Center. Yellow Camellia is a kind of understory plants, it is feasible to plant Yellow Camellia under canopy without negative effect to original trees, and this is a win-win situation both on conservation and forest economy.

Foshan Institute of ForestryRecently, there are many gene bank have been established, but that is different to conservation center, an effective conservation center are demanded to harvest seeds sustained. Therefore, the requirement for conservation center or germplasm bank has continually revised in recent years, currently, more than 100-200 saplings of each species are qualifying for an effective conservation center (or germplasm bank), indeed saplings from seeds are preferred (grafted  and cutting have high risk of developing incomplete fruit), to achieve breed seeds and gene diversity. A place only planted three to five individuals of each species merely a garden or a botanical garden. Insufficient number of plants leads to ineffective seeds or hybrids, and unable to keep seeds with the original character, these cases have occurred in the early established Botanical Garden.

Two years oldFoshan Institute of Forestry is a successful case, where recovered more than 2600 Camellia nitidissima under forest and growth well: Blossoming, fruiting, the germination rate of harvested seeds is more than 90%. It is qualifying as a conservation center, furthermore, it can produce honey and flowers for economic purpose, is a model for developing understory economy.   

All Theaceae species are object of protection to Conservation Center.

The management of Yellow Camellia cultivation

Yellow Camellia is the first species that we found out the cultivate condition in the Conservation Center, it’s low mortality and fast growing surprised us. The survival rate of cutting propagation has reached 99% under greenhouse condition. The germination can take root as long as the health of the stock plant. We sown few Yellow Camellia seeds at the Conservation Center in December 2010, now the amount of plants is the shortest 80 cm to the highest 120 cm in height, this performance was satisfactory.

Green House Ki-no-Senrits Yellow Camellias growth under the warm and humid environment that will growth well as long as the conditions required was satisfaction at the screen house.  The spray equipment with computers were equipped in the screen house at the Conservation Center to control the humidity (maintained at 80 to 90 percents humidity) and temperature (maintained at 20 to 26 degrees Celsius), the temperature difference of day and night with 5 to 10 degrees Celsius, the roots remain wet with dry state. In this environment, the Yellow Camellia root system is strong, plants is healthy, bud two to three times of 30 to 40 cm in height a year. There are two hybrids saplings which propagated by cutting called  'Ki-no-Senrits' in the Conservation Center have growth to 4m in height in five years. Be seen Yellow Camellia in the appropriate environment, regardless of native species or hybrids, seedlings from seeds or cuttings, they can growth fast and healthy.

In natural environment, Yellow Camellia growth on two different type of soil, one is Tsuchiyama-brick red acidic soil, another is Rock Hill limestone calcareous Ëalkaline soil, each species do not growth on the two different soil type at the same time. But cultivate in artificial environment, both can be growth normally. According to the result of research in the Conservation Center past few years, we found that Akadama soil (made in Japan) is the appropriate substrate for Yellow Camellia.  The is granular form, watering it will not cohere into blocks. The Akadama soil with little organic fertilizer gain well performance. The Akadama like the soil of Fusuie and Nonggang. Yellow Camellia roots requires moisture and ventilation environment.

Developed Root SystemInsect pests are less in greenhouse cultivation than in natural environment. Aphids, thrips, spider mites, and scale insect are the common insect pests of Yellow Camellia. Some diseases of Yellow Camellias, such as ash coal disease, anthracnose, and algae blotch disease, requiring regular pesticide spraying to control. In addition, greenhouse cultivated plants should be domesticated before remove to the outdoor.


The purpose of conservation is not only protecting the plant species to avoid extinction but also provide as the material of academic research, such as Yellow Camellia has special medical and health effects are been proofed. However, Yellow Camellia are narrow distributed and rarely seen the understory sapling, the populations almost face to extinction stress now. But fortunately, it is easy to cultivate under artificial environment. Therefore, the project in which Yellow Camellia species populations were propagated under artificial environment is practicable and should proactive implement.

More photos






           Changing soils                                                                   Akadama soil

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                                      Domestication                                                 Applying Pesticide


Chang Hungta and Ren shanxiang  SINICAE FLORA, Tomus 49 (3) 1998
Chang Hungta  A Taxonomy of  The Genus Camellia, The Editorial Staff of The Journal of Sun Yatsen University 1981
Liang Shengye and Lu Mingtsu  The Planting and Application of Golden Camellia, China Foresty Press 2005
Ming Tienlu  Monograph of the Genus Camellia, Yunnan Science and Technology Press
Gao Jiyin  Collected Species of The Genus Camellia An Illustrated Outline, Zhejiang Science and Technology Press, 2005


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