Trees or shrubs with alternate, simple, feather-veined, exstipulate leaves. Flowers regular, polyandrous, hypogynous, cyanic, with sepals and petals imbricated, the former often unequal in size. Stamens more or less coherent at base into one, three or five sets. Anthers 2-celled. Seeds few, with little or no albumen, cotyledons large.
Genera 33, species 130. Beautiful flowering plants, 60 or 70 of them natives of S. America, 4 of N. America, the remainder of China and E. Indies. Their properties are stimulating and slightly narcotic. The tea, so extensively used as a beverage in the civilized world is the leaf of '2 or 8 species of Thea. In contains a peculiar extractive matter called theine, and a stimulating, essential oil, which becomes narcotic in some hot climates. Thea Bohea and T. viridis are the two species which yield all the varieties of Chinese teas, according to the various methods of preparing the leaves.
Calyx of many imbricated sepals. Stamens monadelphous...................
Calyx simple. - Stamens united at base into one set..............................
- Stamens in 5 sets, adhering to the base of the petals.................
1. CAMELLIA, L. Tea Rose. (In honor of G. J. Kamel, a Jesuit, author of some botanical works.) Sepals many, imbricated, the inner ones larger; petals sometimes adhering at base; filaments ∞, shorter than the corolla, united at base; styles united; stigmas 3 to 5, acute.- Ornamental shrubs, native of China and Japan.
C. Japonica L. Japan Rose. Lvs.. ovate, acuminate, acutely serrate, glabrous and shining on both sides, coriaceous and firm, on short petioles; fls. terminal and mostly solitary; petals obovate, of a firm texture; sta. about 50, mostly changed to petals in cultivation; stig. unequally 5-cleft. - A lofty tree in Japan, its native country, a splendid flowering shrub with us, hardy at the South, but requiring protection at the North. Fls. varying from white to red, resembling the rose, but wanting its fragrance. Over 300 varieties are enumerated.
2. STUARTIA, Catesby. (In honor of John Stuart, the Marquis of Bute.) Sepals 5 (or 6), ovate or lanceolate; petals 5 (or 6), obovate, crenulate; stamens monadelphous at base; capsule 5-celled, 5 or 10-seeded, seeds ascending. - Shrubs with deciduous leaves and large, showy, fragrant, axillary, nearly sessile flowers.
1 S. Virgfnica Cav. Sep. ovate; sta. dark purple; sty. united into one with a 5-lobed stigma. - Woods, middle country, Fla. to Va. A beautiful shrub, 8 to 12f high. Lvs. elliptic-ovate, acuminate at both ends, silky-pubescent beneath, slightly mucronate-serrulate, 2' long, 1/2 as wide. Petals white, nearly 2' in length, slightly pubescent beneath, strongly contrasted with the short, dark stamens. May. (S. Malachodendron L.)
2 S. pentagyna L'Her. Sep. lanceolate; stam. colored like the petals, very numerous; sty. 5, distinct, as long as the stamens. - Woods along streams in highlands, Ky. (Rock Castle and Madison counties) to Ga. A handsome shrub, 10 to 15f high. Lvs. thick, glabrous, ovate, acuminate, acute at base, obscurely mucro-nate-serrate, 3 to 4' long, 1/2 as wide. Petals as large as in No. 1, quite silky pubescent beneath, one of them always much the smallest, white (scarcely cream-colored). Caps. 5-angled.
3. G0RDONIA, Ellis. Loblolly Bay. (In honor of James Gordon, a distinguished nurseryman of London.) Sepals 5, roundish, strongly imbricated; petals, 5; stamens 5-adelphous, one set adhering to each petal at base; styles united into one; capsule woody, 5-celled; seeds 2 or more in each cell, pendulous. Trees with large, white, axillary, pedunculate flowers.
1 G. Lasianthus L. Lvs. coriaceous, perennial, glabrous, shining on both sides, lance-oblong; peduncles half as long as the lvs.; sty. as long as the stamens. - Swamps near the coast, Va. to Fla. The Loblolly Bay is a large tree 50 to 80f in height, with a rough bark when old, and light, coarse-grained, mahogany-colored wood. Lvs. 3 to 4' long, 1 to 2' wide, acute at each end, fascicled at the ends of the branches. Sep. very silky outside, small. Petals white, 1 1/2' long, silky without at base. May - Aug.
2 G. pubescens L'Her. Lvs. thin, serrate, deciduous, oblong-cuneiform, shining above, canescent beneath; fls. on short peduncles; sep. and pet. silky outside. - A tree 30 to 50f high in Ga. and Fla., or an ornamental shrub in cultivation at the North, admired for its large white flowers, with yellow stamens and rich fragrance. Lvs. membranous, subsessile, with fine, sharp serratures. May - Aug. (Frank-linia Americana Marsh.)