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 ‘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


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