Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Camellia japonica ‘Prima Donna’

Presumably a cultivar of Camellia japonica L. The identity of the camellia listed as ‘Prima donna’ in the catalogues is doubtful.  The plant usually known and described under this name has somewhat lance-shaped, rounded petals, very full, pink at the base, with white or rose margins and pink veining.  It was raised in Italy about 1850 and first described by Verschaffelt in 1851 so is unlikely to be the catalogue plant.  [ICR].

Horticultural & Botanical History

No additional data.


History at Camden Park

‘Prima Donna’ first appeared in the catalogues in 1845.  It was crossed out in a working copy of the 1850 catalogue held at Camden Park but was still listed in the 1857 catalogue [T.252/1845].  Probably obtained from Loddiges’ Nursery, either in a case of plants brought back by Bidwill or in a direct importation in late 1844.  Concerning the latter Macarthur wrote on 6th January 1845 that he now had five camellias ‘which we had not before’, and of the former that he had saved 60% of the plants: ‘You will judge therefore how much I am in your debt’.  [MP A2933-2, p.28].


Published Jul 01, 2009 - 01:54 PM | Last updated Aug 10, 2011 - 04:28 PM

Family Theaceae
Region of origin


Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Camellia japonica prima donna 

Confidence level low