specific epithet japonica because Engelbert Kaempfer was the first to give a description of the plant while in Japan.
Camellia japonica has appeared in paintings and porcelain since the 11th century. Early paintings of the plant are usually of the single red flowering type. However, a single white flowering plant is shown in the scroll of the Four Magpies of the Song Dynasty. Camellias are seen as lucky symbols for the Chinese New Year and spring and were even used as offerings to the gods during the Chinese New Year. It is also thought that Chinese women would never wear a Camellia in their hair because it opened much later after the bud formed. This was thought to signify that she would not have a son for a long time.
One of the most important plants related to Camellia japonica is the Camellia sinensis, which is the plant tea comes from. This plant is not usually grown in gardens because it has small white flowers, unlike the Camellia japonica, which has larger, more beautiful flowers. It is not seen in art as often as the Camellia japonica, but it is shown in a painting called the Song Hundred Flowers which hangs in the Palace Museum in Beijing. Camellia sinensis may have been used as medicine during the Shang Dynasty. It was first used for drinking during the Zhou Dynasty.
Camellia japonica Alba Plena is one of the most beautiful and most prized of all the Camellias. It is nicknamed the “Bourbon Camellia”. Captain Connor of the East Indiaman, brought the flower to England in 1792. The flowers are pure white and about 3 to 4 inches across. It blooms earlier than most cultivated Camellias, in the early winter or spring, and can flower for 4 to 5 months. [source : Japanese Camellia]