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The Beautiful Camellia: Meaning and Facts

The Camellia plant is a flowering shrub or small, flowering tree. Camellia is popular in the garden due to its preference to bloom in cooler weather. The flowers appear, depending on the species, either in early spring or late winter. The Camellia meaning has a rich history inspired by its unique beauty.

The Beautiful Camellia Meaning and Facts

Camellia History

There are over 200 various species of Camellia, with most being native to China and Japan. The remaining few not from these two locations are native to the Philippines. The flower was named after the botanist Georg Joseph Kamel and is related to Camellia sinensis, otherwise known as the tea plant. 

In Japan’s Shinto religion, it was believed the gods lived in the Camellia flower, when in spirit form, while visiting Earth. Camellia japonica is one of the most popular and important ornamental species. It is this species that is the parent of several hybridized species.

The Camellia became popular with fashion designer Coco Chanel, who prized the flower for its fragrance-free beauty as it wouldn’t clash with her perfume. The flower still appears on several Chanel bags, clothes, and jewelry. 

Modern Camellia Uses

The Camellia is the state flower of Alabama. The flower’s popularity extends beyond this one state thanks to its deer-resistant properties. While one of the Camellia’s meanings is love, there’s no love between the flower and deer. Those who live in areas with wildlife enjoy these plants as they won’t become food for four-legged visitors.

Aside from Camellia sinensis’ use as the tea bush, the oils extracted from the flower are also used in the beauty industry. Camellia has anti-aging properties, including antioxidants and vitamins A, D, And E. Lastly, Camellia oil is a source of Omega 3, 6, and 9–all of which also have anti-aging benefits.

Camellia Flower Meaning

Camellia symbolism is largely affected by the specific region and its unique culture and history. Below are examples of meanings and symbols associated with each country.

China: Unyielding love is the primary Camellia meaning in this country. The symbolism is based on the flower’s anatomy and how the blooms die off. Most flowers, when dying, shed their petals but leave the sepals. With the Camellia, both the petals and sepals die off together. For many these flower parts represent both the male and female and the simultaneous transition symbolizes a deep love.

Japan: Camellia symbolism in Japan represents strong love as well as a tie to the honored Japanese Samurai. The Samurai believed the flowers were symbols of bravery and strength. They also saw symbolism in how quickly the flower dies off, believing this mirrored how quickly their opponents would meet their fate.

North America: Across the ocean the Camellia flower meaning is rooted in love. The flower is used to convey adoration, longing, love, and passion. The Camellia is used to show affection for both romantic and platonic relationships.

Camellia Symbolism Based on Flower Color

Camellia Symbolism Based on Flower Color

In the language of flower giving, the color of the flower has alternative meanings attached to the primary symbolism of the flower itself. Here are the associated meanings of the most common Camellia flower colors.

White Camellia: As with most white flowers, the white Camellia symbolizes purity and innocence. The flower is often used at weddings for this reason. In Japan the flower is associated with death so it is a popular funeral flower.

Pink Camellia: The pink Camellia symbolizes long-distance love and relationships and the associated sentiment of longing. Send these flowers to let that special person know you miss them and are thinking of them.

Red Camellia: As with most red flowers, the red Camellia stands for love, passion, romance, and desire. These are the perfect alternative to roses when you want to catch the love and affection of that special someone.

Yellow Camellia: Yellow is the rarest color of Camellias. This Camellia meaning primarily  represents friendship but can also symbolize uniqueness due to the rarity of the color.

The Camellia flower meaning is varied which makes it the appropriate flower for many occasions. With an appearance that blends the beauty of both the Rose and the Peony, the Camellia is an excellent choice for sending to a friend or loved one. 

Camellia Meaning FAQ

Is Camellia Considered a Toxic Plant?

The common Camellia is not considered toxic to pets.

Where in the Garden Do Camellias Grow Best?

To grow your own Camellias, plant the bush in a place with partial shade and out of the hot, afternoon sun.

What Type of Fragrance Does the Camellia Have?

The fragrance of the flower will vary, depending on the species. The scent will range from lemon, jasmine, or anise. 

What is the difference between a camellia and a Camellia japonica?

The main difference between the two species is the plant’s bloom time. Camellia sasanqua blooms from fall to winter, while Japonica blooms from late winter to early spring.

How Tall Does a Camellia Shrub or Tree Grow?

The plant grows between 6.5 to 65 feet (2 to 20 meters) tall.