Camellia japonica is an evergreen Shrub growing to 10 m (32ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a slow rate. It is in leaf all year, in flower from April to June, and the seeds ripen in October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by bees.
An edible oil is obtained from the seed of Japanese Camellia. It is called ‘tsubaki oil’. Dried flowers are cooked. The flowers are used as a vegetable or mixed with gelatinous-rice to make a Japanese food called ‘mochi’. The leaves are a tea substitute.
The flowers are astringent, antihaemorrhagic, haemostatic, salve and tonic. When mixed with sesame oil they are used in the treatment of burns and scalds. The plant has shown anticancer activity.