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Tea Flower

Cha-no-ki, 茶の木, tea tree, Camellia sinensis (Theaceae)

Tea, the most loved and utilized plant in Camellia family has very small and indistinctive flower. But I like this kind of small camellia (^_^) Leaves, being utilized as tea, in wild has typical fat, hard and uniquely luminescent beautiful leaves.

The home place is supposed to be southern part of China, but as it is cultivated since ancient, not clarified. In Japan, brought from the continent, also has been cultivated since ancient, it is often seen naturalized to be growing even in the forest. This was in a shrine grove.

Camellia family is unique and common group in East Asian warm temperate zone or in the East Asian tropics on high altitude warm temperate equivalent zone. And later, British, who adopted tea in their food habitat, and further utilized tea as cash crop, found its equivalent place in tropical highlands in their colonies out of tea’s home land such as in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, or far away in Kenya.

Camellia family plants are mostly and typically evergreen, the leaves being fat with thick cuticle layer on upper surface. The thick cuticle layer is supposed to be adoption to low temperature in winter or in the night, and it gives high luminescence to the leaves. Seeds are rich in high quality oil. Both of Tea and Camellia (Tsubaki, Camellia japonica) are utilized for oil production.

In China as tea is so deeply rooted, common Camellia, which has bigger and beautiful flowers were named after tea, like 山茶, which means "mountain (or wild) tea", whereas in Japan, tea and common big flowered Camellia are recognized under different context, called Tsubaki, 椿, of which character, meaning completely different plant in China.

Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan, Dec2007
Nikon D40x Micro Nikkor 60mm

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