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Camellia Breeding to Develop Yellow Camellia Flowers

John T. Wang
San Francisco, U S A


 Golden yellow flower of camellias arouse the fever to camellia lovers in the world. It also brings a major challenge to camellia breeders. Looking back from 70’, C. nitidissima was first used to breed yellow flower by Kunming Botanical Garden to the time of yellow hybrid flowers developed by Japanese breeders, camellia lovers in the world are enjoying many new and very attractive yellow camellia flowers. Yet more yellow camellia species are being discovered in Vietnam and China. No question about it many new yellow camellias shall be introduced to us. My favorite hobby is to breed new camellias. Under current situation I have to plan about my own camellia breeding task.

I did selected different path.  In 2004 many of my F1 seedlings, bred with C. nitidissima crossed and pale color flower of C. reticulata hybrids, were in bloom.  Today a few of my F2 seedling, bred between C. nitidisima and my F1 hybrid, also start to flower. The results indicate that genetically C. reticulata would suppress most of yellow coloration transfer to their offspring’s.

At the same time a few attractive new camellias of C. japonica origin with a flare of yellow color flowers were developed from my own garden.  These flowers, in my opinion, shall earn a place for people to appreciate. The major difficulty of my camellia breeding is to be in time to have new yellow camellia species. Recently I manage to collect some pollen back to California. The pollen viable count must be very low due to various factors such as too long exposure in room temperature or the poor condition of original pollen. At present only a few hybrid seedling s are in germination and in pots to grow.

1 Seedling  Flowers Bred From C. nitidisima

A  There were at least 6 seedling plants bred from Susanne Withers and C. nitidissima. Their flowers are generally off white with obvious creamy color at the center portion of the flower.

Photo 1 Photo 2

Photo 1.  Suzanne Withers X C. nitidissima

Photo 2  S.W. X C. nitidissima


B  I have developed at least 35 of my own very pale flowers of reticulate hybrids, called Wang’s White or WW 1 to WW35 by crossing among Suzanne Withers, Loretta Feathers, White Reti and Honeymoon. Again many seedling flowers are only in ivory color and the color intensified slightly in a few days. The results indicate that yellow color is mostly blocked in F1 off spring.

Photo 3 Photo 4

Photo 3  WW1 X C. nitidissima

Photo 4  WW9 X C. nitidissima

 C  F2 seedlings were also produced in my garden as follow;

Photo 5 Photo 6

Photo 5  C. nitidissima X F1-3

Photo 6  F1a X C.nitidissima

  1. a.  C. nitidissima X F1 seedling                             b.  F1 seedling X C. nitidissima (Photo 6)

Obviously the flowers are only in very light cream or ivory color. There are single and semi double flowers. The drawback is the flower size is getting smaller.

2 New Yellow Flower of C. japonica

There are quite a few C.japonica flowers showing very nice yellow coloration, mostly at the center portion. They are Brushfield’s Yellow, Botanyuki, Witman Yellow, Gwenneth Morey and seedling M32, with which I developed my own new camellia plants carrying yellowish flowers.

‘Ivory Carving’

‘Big Anemone’  

Photo 7 Photo 8 

Photo 7  B.Yellow X M32

Photo 8  B.Yellow open Seed


'Suzhou Embroidery’
 Photo 9

Photo 9  JSSX












The unique and intensive yellow color is only located at the flower center. The color stays with petal veins to spread out. It is a small flower, middle to late to bloom. Brushfield’s Yellow X M32




Photo 10 Photo 11 Photo 12

Photo 10  JSSX

Photo 11  JXS

Photo 12  JSSX

  ‘Morning Sun through Rain Bowl’

This medium size anemone flower has rather limited petaloids. So far I observed three color variations: white petals with large rose pink strips and creamy center, Ivory petal with pink strip and creamy center and rose pink petal with a mix of rose and cream petaloids.  The parentage: Brushfield’s Yellow X seedling T17.


Photo 13 Photo 14

Photo 13  XRGH

Photo 14  XRGH


Photo 15 Photo 16

Photo 15  XRGH

Photo 16  ‘Jinhua Jade Plate’

 This flower was developed about 15 years ago by White Dragon X Elegans Champagne.  It is a large flower with most fine petal serration. The center is very clean creamy yellow with greenish cast.

3 Other related work

My C. flavida is finally mature to produce first yellow flower. A small amount of pollen was collected and stored. I should be very careful to portion the usage, likely to cross 100 flowers.

Photo 17

Photo 17  C.flavida










 Photo 18

Photo 18  ‘Putuo Purple Light’










‘Putuo Purple Light’ is a cross of : Suzanne Withers  X  Honeymoon


There is a tiny cream color at the flower center. This picture was taken from a nursery at Qingdao City , China

Photo 19 

Photo 19  C.tieniii










C. tieniii pollen was collected from Jinhua City. Two tiny seed sprouts are observed, the cross: Tiffany X C. tienii.

 Photo 20

Photo 20  Hybrid Seedlings of Tiffany X C.  tienii










To pursue to breed new yellow camellia is still elusive but positive to me. I did learn a lot from my practical experience. I am diligently to build many bridges, eventually leading me to reach my goal.



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