May is Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States and is dedicated to honoring the traditions, history, achievements, and culture of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans that emigrated to the United States on May 7th 1843.
Influences on Literature
Kate Greenaway, a 19th-century illustrator, included the Camellia Japonica in her illustrated handbook, matching each plant with figurative language; White Japonica ~ Perfected Loveliness and Red Japonica ~ Unpretending Elegance.
Influences on Fashion and Design
The Camellia has stood the test of time as the House of Chanel’s classic emblem with its rose-like shape and perfect lines, and for Chanel, it symbolized everlasting love and was the epitome of the simplicity and grace she was known for.
The Camellia Arrival
- The first Camellia plants were imported from Asia to Europe and then to America in the late 1700s. Camellia cultivars were gradually imported by Asian immigrants seeking to build their businesses in the United States.
The Camellia Plant and Asian Americans
- Two Japanese immigrant brothers, Kanetaro and Takanoshin Demoto, started a thriving nursery business near San Francisco in 1885. During the Great Depression, the nursery fell into foreclosure, and it was Kanetaro’s son, Toichi, who ultimately maintained the family business and introduced the Camillia plant to the area. The Camellia sasanqua species became a successful staple of the Demoto Nursery.
The Camellia Species
- Camellia sasanqua and Camellia japonica are the two most popular species of Camellias due to their resilience and beautiful flowers. Cultivars of the Camellia Japonica were imported to the U.S. from England in the 1800s and cultivated for ornamental purposes. Camellia Japonica became the most prevalent ornamental of the Camellias among the wealthiest Americans in the south. Today, a multitude of popular hybrids may be found across the U.S.
The Value of the Camellia
- The oil from the Camellia oleifera seeds is valued for its high oleic acid and omega–9 fatty acid content, anti-inflammatory properties, and ability to hydrate skin and hair. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, it is cholesterol-free and low in saturated fats. Chinese and Japanese families have cherished Camellia oil for centuries as a healthy, edible cooking oil.