Camellia japonica ‘Rubra’

A cultivar of Camellia japonica L., ‘Rubra’, imported from China, has single, dark red flowers.  [ICR, FC p.186/1835].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘In its native country, the Camellia rises to a height of from forty to fifty feet; but in Europe, it rarely exceeds from twenty to twentyfive, and forms a shrub of the most superb appearance, whose persisting foliage, of a glossy green, and splendid flowers, place it, without contradiction, in the first rank, among the plants of our green-houses.

Its branches are numerous, alternate, diverging, reddish when young, but ash-coloured and striated in their adult age; the leaves uniformly alternate, large, smooth, generally more or less convex, thick, coriaceous, of a beautiful deep green, margins acutely, but not deeply dentated; the flowers, often from two to three inches in diameter, of a bright cherry-red, terminal, or rising from the axils of the leaves of the superior branches; they appear, in this climate, to gladden our sight, in November and March, when the frosts have desolated our gardens; this peculiarity, independently of the extreme beauty, so remarkable on this plant, has been sufficient to claim for it our preference; it may also be added, that if nature had not refused an agreeable aroma, it would be the sovereign of plants, to which no other could be compared, without disparagement.’  [Berlèse Monography p.14/1838].

One of the earliest camellias to be imported into Europe.  ‘The type from which nearly all our varieties are derived.’  [Berlèse Monography p.79/1838].  ‘This most beautiful tree, though long since figured and described […] was a stranger to our gardens in the time of Miller, or at least it is not noticed in the last edition of his Dictionary [1768].’  [BM t.42/1788].  LBC no.397/1819.  

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.259/1843].  It is probably ‘Rubra simplex’ that was received per ‘Sovereign’ February 1831 under the name ‘C. japonica rubra’.  [MP A2948-2].


Published Jul 02, 2009 - 04:20 PM | Last updated Aug 10, 2011 - 03:30 PM

Figured is a single camellia with dark red flowers and prominent stamens.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.42, 1788.

Camellia japonica ‘Rubra’ | BM t.42/1788 | RBGS


More details about Camellia japonica ‘Rubra’
Family Theaceae
Region of origin


  • ‘Rubra Simplex’
  • ‘Rose camellia’
  • ‘Japonica’


Common Name


Name in the Camden Park Record

Camellia japonica rubra simplex 


Confidence level high