Camellia japonica Triumphans

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Another old Camellia identified   
 David Medway

Jack Goodwin became Curator of Pukekura Park in 1949. He recorded that, in the early 1950s, he had measured 
“a few” of the Camellias in the Park. He found that, at that time, there must have been 50 more than 12 feet high 
and with a spread of 18 feet or more (New Zealand Camellia Bulletin 2(4) (1961): 6). Unfortunately, no record 
exists of the identity of most of the Camellias included in Goodwin’s survey but the large old-fashioned Camellia 
japonica cultivar that is prominent at the southern end of Sunken Dell beside the outlet to the main lake may 
have been one of them. This healthy plant flowers prolifically throughout a long period from early June until late 

I mentioned in an earlier article (Supplement to Newsletter of Friends of Pukekura Park 2(2) (October 2007) that 
it is not possible to identify most old Camellia japonica cultivars, even given that they have been named, without 
reference to the early illustrated Camellia literature, some of which is now available on the Internet. After 
researching the most relevant of this early and later literature, I am satisfied that the Camellia in question is a 
specimen of the old cultivar Camellia japonica ‘Triumphans’. 

Camellia japonica ‘Triumphans’ originated in Belgium and was first validly named in 1833. The following 
description of it by Berlese in Monographie du genre Camellia (1837) is taken from the English translation of that 
work (Monography of the Genus Camellia 1838: 72): “147. C. Triumphans. - Leaves two and a half inches wide and 
three long, roundish-oval, slightly acuminated, nerves very distinct, a little undulated towards the middle, thick, 
very like those of the ‘Colvillii’; bud spherical, depressed at the summit, and as large as a small walnut, before it 
expands into blossom; scales calycinal, large, thick, rounded, of a yellowish colour; flower three and a half inches ...

Photo David Medway
Camellia japonica ‘Triumphans’ beside main lake outlet

... in diameter, very full, regular, cherry-red, No. 1, gradually shaded with a pure 
rose, whose intenseness diminishes from the circumference to the centre; 
petals large, a little recurved at the exterior extremity, imbricated gracefully, 
slightly veined with red and rose; sometimes the petals of the centre, which are 
small, are striped with white.- Magnificent”.  The accompanying painting of 
‘Triumphans’ appeared as Plate 104 in Berlese’s Iconographie du genre Camellia 

The source of the Park’s specimen of ‘Triumphans’ is not known, nor is it 
known when it was planted but it is obviously of considerable age. A 
flourishing specimen of this cultivar, planted at Mangapouri mission station 
near Te Awamutu in 1834, was still present in 1960 (Durrant The Camellia 
Story 1982: 46-47). I do not know if it survives. In 1960 there was another fine 
specimen in Cambridge which was subsequently removed to make way for 
commercial development (New Zealand Camellia Bulletin 14(3) (1985): 19). 
It is possible that other old specimens of ‘Triumphans’ still exist elsewhere in 
New Zealand but have not yet been identified as such. In any event, because 
Camellia japonica ‘Triumphans’ of its identity and probable age, the Pukekura Park specimen of Camellia 
from Berlese (1841-1843) japonica ‘Triumphans’ is a notable plant in its own right.
Flowers of Camellia japonica ‘Triumphans’.

Photos David Medway
Reprinted from The Magazine of the Friends of Pukekura Park  Vol. 7(2) (2012) : 2-3

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Camellia japonica Triumphans


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Camellia japonica ‘Triumphans’

Creator or author:David Medway
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