Camellia oconoriana

Canmews Winter 2014The story of C. oconoriana goes back to the year 2007 when we collected it for the first time. At the time, specimens were taken to the not so close local village. This was a small settlement of several dwellings situated near a quite large tea plantation. The all-important branches with flowers were in one, cut down plastic mineral water bottle. The leaves were in the second, similarly treated bottle.

                  I was just about to take some close up pictures when everyone was called to come and assemble for a picture of the village headman to be taken. This was done and after perhaps less than 10 minutes I returned to take the said pictures. The flowers and the bottle were missing. An extensive search, by all of us, followed but the flowers were not found. The culprit(s) did a thorough job. As to the reasons for the abduction and flower-napping, we can only speculate. One cannot accuse anyone without any proof. Of course, that meant that any idea of publication had to be abandoned.

                  Tony and I returned to the village in 2008 and again in 2009. Alas, we failed toOconoriana word file locate the deep valley within the dense jungle. In this geographical area the jungle is intersected by a number of identical looking valleys. The plant growth is very dense, the ground is forever wet and the forest is full of every biting and sucking creature that evolution could manage to devise. It was very frustrating, but we persevered and in 2010 C. oconoriana was finally rediscovered and collected.

                  Then the tedious work of the writing of the morphological descriptor started. It took me some two weeks. The drawings were more fun, as I like drawing. It took less than a week to do. The literature review, in case someone already published the same plant as a Oconoriana word filenew species, took another week. Then we sent the manuscript to the Edinburgh Journal of Botany where it appeared in 2013.

                  And today we have this new species fully recognised and included in the International Plant Name Index (IPNI). C. oconoriana cost us a lot, financially and time wise, but it was worth it!Oconoriana word file

                  It could be said that the easy part was honouring “Rachel and Geoffrey O’Conor for their generosity, long-term support and patronage of Camellia research in Australia”, by naming this new species after them.

Dr George Orel


Oconoriana word file

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