Now Blooming

Common Names: Yellow Camellia, Golden Camellia

Scientific Name: Camellia nitidissima, C.W.Chi

Family: Theaceae, the tea family


Genus: Camellia – named for Moravian Jesuit botanist Georg Josef
Kamel 1661–1706, who travelled and botanised in Asia;

Species: nitidissima – Latin ‘nitid’ meaning lustrous or shining, and ‘issima’, the superlative degree.


Native of Guangxi Province in southern China and in northern Vietnam.

Native Habitat

Moist subtropical forests below 500 m altitude. Prefers shade as it grows in the forest understorey.


Shrub up to 5m tall with dark green, leathery leaves that are glossy above and nely serrated on the margin. New growth is reddish purple. The cup-shaped (to 5 cm diameter), waxy owers are unusual in being yellow; Camellia owers are most commonly associated with white, reds and pinks.

Flowers and Fruit

Flowering in winter to spring is followed by thick-walled, smooth, green fruits that look like a small apple.

Location in Garden

Bed 4b, Camellia Garden next to the small path leading to Rathborne Lodge; Bed 60, adjacent to the Palm Grove.


One of more than 30 yellow-owered Camellia species, the Yellow Camellia Camellia nitidissima (synonym Camellia chrysantha), although earlier described, was re-discovered in the 1960s in Chinaclose to the border with Vietnam, and rst brought into cultivation in the 1970s. It caused a sensation amongst Camellia collectors and breeders who are now using this species to create new and wonderful colour combinations. The species is considered vulnerable, as wild populations are threatened by overcollection and habitat disturbance.

There are over 250 species of Camellia worldwide and we have 28 species represented in our collection. Many, including Camellia nitidissima, have been grafted onto Camellia sasanqua rootstock to make them faster growing and more drought tolerant.

Recent research has demonstrated that although Camellias are usually associated with cool temperate gardens, they originated in the tropical and subtropical forests of Asia.

Our Garden contains several of these more tropical or sub-tropical species, like the Yellow Camellia, which have large leaves and striking red new growth. Surrounding our species of Camellias are more than 250 Camellia cultivars, derived mostly from three species; japonica, sasanqua and reticulata. Australia has been a major centre for Camellia breeding, with these popular plants rst introduced to the Sydney Garden in 1823. 

Must See in the Garden

Recommended by the volunteers

Range BloodwoodDownload the Must See in the Garden map to enjoy a self guided walk around the Garden. Created by our volunteers each month with seasonal highlights in mind.

Or simply visit the Information Booth at the Garden Shop at 10.30 am everyday and 1pm weekdays for a free guided walk!