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As summer sets in, the majority of the flowering trees in Ashland have long since lost their bloom. A striking exception to this is the Stewartia pseudocamellia, commonly known as the False Camellia Tree or Japanese Stewartia, which is coming into bloom now and will continue to bloom through August. Even more striking are the 2-to-3-inch diameter white flowers with yellow centers, which closely resemble those of the Camellia &

giving way to the tree's comon name.

Native to East Asia (Japan Korea) and having been introduced into cultivation in 1897, the False Camellia is a relative newcomer to cultivation. The showy camellia-like flowers certainly set this tree apart, but the tree is also known for its striking mottled bark that peels as the tree ages into patterns of dull orange and green mixed with gray. Equally striking are the bright green leaves which turn brilliant scarlet in the autumn.

The tree is deciduous, losing its leaves in winter and is hardy to -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

The tree is known to reach 45 feet, but is usually smaller, often with a pyramidal to rounded shape rising from low branching trunks. The specimens found in Lithia Park are less than 20 feet. It prefers filtered sunlight (especially in summer) and can be an ideal addition to a sheltered backyard summer sanctuary or meditation garden. It requires good drainage and consistent moisture. Often difficult to establish, younger trees transplant best. The tree has been hybridized into a host of varieties such as "Ballet,'" "Cascade," "Milk and Honey" and "Mint Frills" to name a few.

The False Camellia is a member of the Theacea family, along with its cousin the Camellia (Camellia sinensis), which is the source of the popular green, white and black teas.

The Ashland Tree Commission is made up of seven volunteer members appointed by the Ashland City Council. In addition to updating and maintaining the Recommended Street Tree Guide and participating in the annual Tree of the Year award, the Commission also acts in an advisory capacity to the Planning Commission in the development process with respect to landscape design, suitable plantings, protection of natural vegetation, and tree requirements. There are current openings on the Commission. Interested persons are encouraged to Amy Anderson, City of Ashland, Community Development Department, at 552-2044.

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