Camellia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. They are found in eastern and southern Asia, from the Himalayas east to Japan and Indonesia. There are 100–300 described species, with some controversy over the exact number. There are also around 3,000 hybrids. The genus was named by Linnaeus after the Jesuit botanist Georg Joseph Kamel, who worked in the Philippines and described a species of camellia (although Linnaeus did not refer to Kamel's account when discussing the genus). Camellias are famous throughout East Asia; they are known as cháhuā (茶花, 'tea flower') in Chinese, tsubaki (椿) in Japanese, dongbaek-kkot (동백꽃) in Korean, and as hoa trà or hoa chè in Vietnamese. Of economic importance in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent, leaves of C. sinensis are processed to create the popular beverage tea. The ornamental C. japonica, C. sasanqua and their hybrids are the source of hundreds of garden cultivars. C. oleifera produces tea seed oil, used in cooking and cosmetics.
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