Gold Splash Tea. Of course the species Camellia sinensis is commercial tea, which is by far the most widely planted Camellia species on the planet. The only commercial tea operations in the western hemisphere are here in SC near Charleston. As a matter of fact, all of the commercial tea endeavors in America have all been in SC. The fall flower for this species is only 1-2" across with a slight fragrance and is white with yellow stamens. So to get real interest in this plant, one needs to look to the foliage. This is the first variegated form that I had ever seen, with large splotches of yellow throughout its leaves. Some branches may be completely green and then produce heavily variegated leaves the next growing season. As one can see from the photos, there is much variability in variegation depending on growing conditions. This is a small leaf tea, compared to others which have a much larger leaf. Tea is a one of the more cold hardy Camellias, taking temperatures well below zero and the growth habit is spreading, growing broader than high, 4-6'. This is probably the oldest variegated cultivar introduced from Japan, because I have seen an old specimen of this selection at Redcliffe Plantation here near Beech Island, SC. The Redcliffe website quotes: "Redcliffe Plantation, completed in 1859, was once the home of James Henry Hammond, three generations of his descendants, and numerous African-American families like the Henleys, Goodwins, and Wigfalls who worked at the site as enslaved laborers and later as free men and women. Now one of the many historic plantations South Carolina has opened to the public, this site encompasses the ambition, wealth and power of James Henry Hammond as well as the injustices and suffering forced on the hundreds of enslaved peoples who were forced to live and work on the land. A successful cotton planter, congressman, governor and senator, Hammond spent his life defending the southern plantation system and his status within it."
Even though we have a severe deer problem here at the nursery, they have never attacked our Camellias. All Camellia species seem to be resistant.