Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Kuntze, C.E.O. (1887) Act.Hort. Petrop. 10: 195.

Common name

Chinese Tea; Tea; Common Tea; Tea Bush; Japanese Tea


Occasionally grows into a small tree but usually flowers and fruits as a shrub 2-4 m tall.


Leaf blades about 10 x 3.5 cm, margin toothed from the base to the apex with about 30-40 teeth on each side of the midrib. Lateral veins form loops well inside the blade margin. Twigs, petioles and leaves glabrous. Petiole grooved on the upper surface.


Flowers pleasantly perfumed. Calyx lobes dimorphic, outer three, about 4 mm long, inner three, about 3 mm long. Petals dimorphic, inner three or four, about 17-18 mm long, outer three, about 10-14 mm long. Ovary longitudinally ribbed, densely clothed in straight, white, appressed hairs, ovules about 4-6 per locule.


Capsules usually 3-lobed and broader than long with one seed in each lobe, calyx persistent at the base. Seeds about 10-15 x 10-12 mm.


Cataphylls (4 or 5) produced before the first pair of true leaves. First pair of true leaves with toothed margins. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade with about 40 teeth on each side. Seed germination time 46 to 776 days.

Distribution and Ecology

An introduced species originally from China now naturalised in places in NEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to about 700 m. Grows on old farmland and in disturbed areas in lowland and mountain rain forest.

Natural History & Notes

Large areas of this shrub or small tree are cultivated in Australia and overseas for the production of tea.

Thea sinensis L., Species Plantarum : 515(1753), Type: China?.
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