Research Article
Research Article
Nomenclatural notes and typification of three synonyms of Camellia (Theaceae)
expand article infoDongwei Zhao
‡ Central South University of Forestry and Technology, Changsha, China
Open Access


All the known generic synonyms of Camellia are summarized with their types clarified. Camelliastrum and Desmitus are lectotypified and Salceda is neotypified. “Kailosocarpus” and “Parapiquetia” were not validly published, Theaphylla and Tsia are illegitimate replacement names for Thea, and Kemelia and Tsubaki are illegitimate replacement names for Camellia. Nomenclatural notes on Theopsis and its type are also provided.


Camellia cuspidata, Camellia reticulata, Camelliastrum, Desmitus, lectotypification, neotypification, Salceda, Theopsis


Linnaeus (1753: 698) established the monotypic genus Camellia L. for the ornamental species, Camellia japonica L. He referenced Kaempfer’s (1712: 850, 852) description and a single illustration (Kaempfer 1712: t. 851) under C. japonica without citing any specimens in the protologue (Arts. 38.1, 38.5, 38.6 & 38.13 of the Shenzhen Code, Turland et al. 2018; hereafter ICN). Subsequently, Bartholomew (Jarvis et al. 1993: 29) designated the illustration (Kaempfer 1712: t. 851) as the lectotype of C. japonica (Art. 9 Ex. 2 of the ICN). Accordingly, this illustration serves as the type of Camellia.

The boundaries of Camellia have been gradually enlarged by several taxonomists (e.g., Sweet 1818; Seemann 1859; Sealy 1958; Chang 1981; Ming 2000). Zhang et al. (2014) argued that Camellia might be a paraphyletic group in their analyses using four plastid DNA regions and the paralogous nuclear LEAFY marker. However, the monophyly of the genus was supported by investigations using complete plastid genome data (Yu et al. 2017) and other nuclear sequences (Vijayan et al. 2009; Li et al. 2011; Zhao et al. 2022). Nevertheless, nomenclatural problems should be resolved before a comprehensive phylogenetic study of the boundaries of Camellia. Although the genus, including tea, camellias and oil camellias, has been revised several times (e.g., Sealy 1958; Chang 1981; Ming 2000), the types of many taxa in Camellia have only recently been clarified (Zhao et al. 2017a, b, 2018, 2019; Zhao 2021). However, the types of some synonyms at generic rank remain unclear and are discussed here.

Materials and methods

Relevant collections or their images from herbaria at A, BM, E, G, IBK, IBSC, K, KUN, L, LINN, P, PE, SBT, SYS, TCD, UPS and US (acronyms following Thiers 2022), and the taxonomic literature were examined. Types were chosen based on Arts. 9 and 10 of the ICN.

Types of the synonyms of Camellia

Since the latest monograph of Camellia (Ming 2000), two further genera, Bembiciopsis H. Perrier (Judd 1997) and Dankia Gagnep. (Hô 1991; Zhao et al. 2017b), have been placed into the synonymy of Camellia. All 18 synonyms of Camellia (Linnaeus 1753; Adanson 1763; Blume 1825; Siebold 1832; Rafinesque 1830, 1838; Blanco 1845; Hallier 1921; Gagnepain 1939; Nakai 1940; Perrier 1940; Hu 1956, 1965) and their types (Jarvis et al. 1993; Lin et al. 2008; Zhao et al. 2016, 2017b, 2018, 2019; Zhao 2021) are listed in Table 1. “Kailosocarpus” (Hu 1957: 170) and “Parapiquetia” (Hu 1957: 170) were cited by Chang (1981: 12) in the synonymy of Camellia; however, both “Kailosocarpus” and “Parapiquetia” were not validly published since a Latin description or diagnosis was neither provided nor cited in each of the protologues (Art. 39.1 of the ICN). “Kailosocarpus” and “Parapiquetia” have no status under Art. 12.1 of the ICN and are, therefore, excluded from Table 1. The typification and nomenclatural notes of some synonyms of Camellia are elaborated below.

Table 1.

A summary of synonyms of Camellia L.

Synonym Type, as species (basionym) Type, as specimen or illustration Notes
Bembiciopsis H. Perrier, Mém. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat. 13: 300. (1940) Bembiciopsis uniflora H. Perrier Le Myre de Vilers s.n., P00389083, holotype
Calpandria Blume, Bijdr. fl. Ned. Ind. 178. (1825) Calpandria lanceolata Blume L 0064294, lectotype (designated by Zhao et al. 2019: 298)
Camelliastrum Nakai, J. Jap. Bot. 16: 699. (1940) Camellia caudata Wall. H. Bruce s.n. in Wallich 978 (K001110475, right-hand specimen), lectotype (designated by Zhao et al. 2017b: 172)
Dankia Gagnep. in Humbert, Fl. Indo-Chine, Suppl. 1: 198. (1939) Dankia langbianensis Gagnep. Poilane 18648 (P00754831), lectotype (designated by Zhao et al. 2017b: 173)
Desmitus Raf., Sylva Tellur. 139. (1838) Camellia reticulata Lindl. Lindl., Bot. Reg. 13: t. 1078 (1827), lectotype, designated in this paper
Drupifera Raf., Sylva Tellur. 140. (1838) Thea oleosa Lour. Loureiro s.n. (P00150891), holotype
Glyptocarpa Hu, Acta Phytotax. Sin. 10: 25. (1965) Pyrenaria camellioides Hu Wang 72468 (PE 00024548), lectotype (designated by Lin et al. 2008: 1701)
Kemelia Raf., Sylva Tellur. 139. (1838) Camellia japonica L. Kaempfer, Amoen. Exot. Fasc. t. 851. (1712), lectotype Illegitimate replacement name for Camellia
Piquetia (Pierre) Hallier f., Beih. Bot. Centralbl. 39(2): 162. (1921) Thea piquetiana Pierre Pierre 1708 (P01903371), lectotype (designated by Zhao et al. 2018: 94)
Salceda Blanco, Fl. Filip. ed. 2: 374. (1845) Salceda montana Blanco Ramos & Edaño 34071 (K), neotype, designated in this paper
Sasanqua T. Ness in Siebold, Nippon 2(6): 13. (1832) Camellia sasanqua Thunb. Thunberg s.n. (UPS No. 16143, left-hand specimen), lectotype (designated by Zhao 2021: 297)
Stereocarpus (Pierre) Hallier f., Beih. Bot. Centralbl. 39(2): 162. (1921) Thea dormoyana The author and typification of the species is dependent on a binding decision to be made, see Zhao et al. (2016: 1183)
Thea L., Sp. Pl. 515. (1753) Thea sinensis L. Kaempfer, Amoen. Exot. Fasc. 606, f. 1–2. (1712), lectotype (designated by Bartholomew in Jarvis et al. 1993: 93)
Theaphylla Raf., Med. Fl. 2: 267. (1830) Thea sinensis L. Kaempfer, Amoen. Exot. Fasc. 606, f. 1–2. (1712), lectotype Illegitimate replacement name for Thea
Theopsis (Cohen-Stuart) Nakai, J. Jap. Bot. 16: 704. (1940) Thea cuspidata Kochs Henry 7026 (K000380525), lectotype (designated by Sealy 1958: 57)
Tsia Adans., Fam. Pl. 2: 450. (1763) Thea sinensis L. Kaempfer, Amoen. Exot. Fasc. 606, f. 1–2. 1712, lectotype Illegitimate replacement name for Thea
Tsubaki Adans., Fam. Pl. 2: 399. (1763) Camellia japonica L. Kaempfer, Amoen. Exot. Fasc. t. 851. 1712, lectotype Illegitimate replacement name for Camellia
Yunnanea Hu, Acta Phytotax. Sin. 5: 282. (1956) Yunnanea xylocarpa Hu Yu 16021 (PE 00133872), lectotype (designated by Lin et al. 2008: 1702)

Camelliastrum Nakai, J. Jap. Bot. 16: 699. (1940)

Table 1


(“lectotype”, Art. 10 Note 1 of the ICN; designated here): Camelliastrum caudatum (Wall.) Nakai.

Nomenclatural notes

Nakai (1940) established the genus Camelliastrum to categorize six species in China and Japan, including Camelliastrum assimile (Champ. ex Benth.) Nakai, Camelliastrum buisanense (Sasaki) Nakai, Camelliastrum caudatum, Camelliastrum gracile (Hemsl.) Nakai, Camelliastrum mairei (H.Lév.) Nakai and Camelliastrum salicifolium (Champ.) Nakai, but did not designate a type. Based on the description in the protologue, Camelliastrum caudatum is selected as the type of the genus. The basionym of Camelliastrum caudatum, Camellia caudata Wall., was lectotypified by Zhao et al. (2017b: 172) as the specimen H. Bruce s.n. in Wallich 978 (right-hand specimen of K001110475. An image is available at Therefore, this specimen becomes the type of Camelliastrum (Art. 10.1 of the ICN).

Desmitus Raf., Sylva Tellur. 139. (1838)

Table 1


Desmitus reticulata (Lindl.) Raf. ≡ Camellia reticulata Lindl., Bot. Reg. 13: t. 1078 (1827).


(designated here): Lindl., Bot. Reg. 13: t. 1078 (1827).

Nomenclatural notes

Rafinesque (1838) established the monotypic genus Desmitus for D. reticulata. This was a new combination based on C. reticulata because he referenced the basionym by the words “Camel. do bot. reg. 1978...”. However, the taxon number cited by Rafinesque (1838: 140) is incorrect, but should be recognized as a correctable typographical error of “1078” and so does not prohibit the valid publication of the new combination (Art. 41.3 of the ICN). Nevertheless, Lindley (1827: t. 1078) described C. reticulata based on the living plants that bore semidouble flowers and introduced from China. No specimen was cited in the protologue of C. reticulata. The coloured drawing, t. 1078, was accompanied by the protologue and therefore designated as the lectotype of C. reticulata. Accordingly, the drawing serves as the type of Desmitus (Art. 10.1 of the ICN).

Salceda Blanco, Fl. Filip. ed. 2: 374. (1845)

Table 1


Salceda montana Blanco


(designated here): Philippines. Luzon: Bulacan, Angat, February 1919, Ramos & Edaño 34071 (K!; isoneotypes: BM!, P04511451 [the image is available at]!, and US 00113902 [the image is available at]!).

Nomenclatural notes

Blanco (1845: 374) established the monotypic genus Salceda for S. montana. Merrill (1905: 21) transferred the species to Thea as T. montana (Blanco) Merr. and stated that “Blanco’s specimens were from Angat, Province of Bulacan”. However, the types of Blanco’s species were suggested to be either all destroyed (Merrill 1905: 6) or no longer extant (Merrill 1918: 5). I also failed to find the original material of S. montana. Based on the protologue (Blanco 1845: 374), a specimen collected from the same locality, Ramos & Edaño 34071 (K), is designated as the neotype of S. montana because it bears flower fragments and seeds on the sheet.

Illegitimate replacement names for Camellia and Thea

Thea L., a genus established by Linnaeus (1753: 515) for tea (T. sinensis L., currently C. sinensis [L.] Kuntze), was treated as a synonym of Camellia by Sweet (1818: 157). Theaphylla Raf. and Tsia Adans. are illegitimate replacement names for Thea because Thea was cited in the synonymies of them (Adanson 1763: 613; Rafinesque 1830: 267), which makes Tsia and Theaphylla nomenclaturally superfluous (Arts. 6.11, 52.1 & 52.2[e] of the ICN). Similarly, Kemelia Raf. and Tsubaki Adans. are illegitimate replacement names for Camellia (Adanson 1763: 399; Rafinesque 1838: 139) because Camellia was cited as a synonym of them (Arts. 6.11, 52.1 & 52.2[e] of the ICN). Therefore, the four names, Kemelia, Theaphylla, Tsia and Tsubaki, are rejected under Art. 52.1 of the ICN.

Nomenclatural notes on Theopsis

Cohen-Stuart (1916: 70) established Camellia sect. Theopsis Cohen-Stuart in his Ph.D. thesis, which constituted an effective publication under Art. 30.9 of the ICN. Subsequently, he translated the first two chapters of his original thesis in Dutch into English and published it (Cohen-Stuart 1919). Cohen-Stuart (1916, 1919) listed nine species, viz. C. costei H. Lév., C. cuspidata (Kochs) hort., C. euryoides Lindl., C. forrestii (Diels) Cohen-Stuart, C. henryana Cohen-Stuart, C. lutchuensis T. Itô ex T. Itô & Matsum., C. parvifolia (Hayata) Cohen-Stuart, C. punctata (Kochs) Cohen-Stuart and C. rosiflora Hook., in the key under sect. Theopsis. These nine species are presumably treated as the members of sect. Theopsis based on the structure of the key, the description of the section and the discussion. However, Cohen-Stuart (1916, 1919) did not designate a type for his sect. Theopsis. Nakai (1940) raised this section to generic rank to include 14 species and cited Cohen-Stuart’s (1919) English article (Arts. 41.1 & 41.3 of the ICN), but without selecting a type for the genus. Remarkably, four of nine species of Cohen-Stuart’s (1916, 1919) sect. Theopsis were excluded and five of them, including C. euryoides, C. forrestii, C. lutchuensis, C. parvifolia, and C. rosiflora (= C. maliflora, according to Cohen-Stuart 1916: 69, 1919: 241), were retained in the genus Theopsis (Cohen-Stuart) Nakai. Later, Sealy (1958: 14) treated Theopsis as a synonym of Camellia and resumed sect. Theopsis (Sealy 1958: 48). Chang (1981: 128) followed Sealy’s (1958) treatment and designated C. cuspidata, a species excluded from Nakai’s genus Theopsis, as the type of sect. Theopsis and this typification must be followed under Art. 10.5 of the ICN. However, when Nakai (1940) adopted Theopsis as a generic name, he did not exclude the type of Cohen-Stuart’s (1916: 70) sect. Theopsis because the section had not yet been typified, so Arts. 48.1 & 48.2 of the ICN do not apply. According to Art. 48.1 Note 1 of the ICN, this situation should be dealt with under Art. 7.3 of the ICN. Therefore, the genus Theopsis is typified by the type of its basionym, sect. Theopsis, that is, C. cuspidata, based on Chang’s (1981: 128) typification (Art. 10.5 of the ICN) even though the species was excluded from this genus (Art. 7.3 of the ICN).

However, C. cuspidata has nomenclatural problems. Kochs (1900: 586) described T. cuspidata Kochs and cited the single gathering Henry 7026. Subsequently, a name, C. cuspidata, was provided in the list of “Awards of Merit” in The Gardeners’ Chronicle (Anonymous 1912: 228). The plant was described as having “small, single, white flowers” with “pale-yellow stamens” and “narrow leaves” that were about 2–2.5 inches long. The brief description could make C. cuspidata validly published as a new species because the requirements of Arts. 32.1 & 38.1 of the ICN are likely fulfilled (also see Art. 38 Note 2 of the ICN). However, although Kochs’s T. cuspidata was neither directly nor indirectly referenced in the protologue of C. cuspidata (Anonymous 1912: 228; Arts. 41.1–41.3 of the ICN), the latter is, nevertheless, treated as a new combination based on T. cuspidata under Art. 41.4 (see Ex. 12) of the ICN.

Furthermore, two duplicates of Henry 7026 were found at K and US, viz. K000380525 (the image is available at and US 00504123 (the image is available at Since Kochs (1900: 586) did not indicate a single specimen of the entire gathering as the holotype, the two duplicates at different herbaria are syntypes of T. cuspidata based on Art. 40 Note 1. When Sealy (1958: 57) cited “A. Henry 7026 (K, type-number)” under C. cuspidata, the citation could be treated as the lectotypification of the species following Arts. 7.11, 9.10 & 9.19 of the ICN. Therefore, the lectotype of C. cuspidata is that of T. cuspidata, viz. Henry 7026 (K000380525), which, in turn, serves as the type of Theopsis (Table 1).


I thank the staff of herbaria consulted for making specimens and literature available, and three reviewers and the editor, Dr. Clifford Morden, for their careful comments and corrections. The work was funded by the Scientific Research Foundation of the Central South University of Forestry and Technology (2019YJ023).


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