The 'Real' Mathotiana?

vmr423(Zone 8b, SC)October 18, 2013

I'm trying to get a handle on my camellia varieties, but 'Mathotiana' has me confused.

According to the International Camellia Register, 'Mathotiana' was bred in Belgium by M. Mathot around 1847. In the U.S., 'Julia Drayton' (a cultivar from Magnolia Gardens, c. 1908) was incorrectly called 'Mathotiana'- 'Julia Drayton' is apparently also called 'Purple Dawn'.

'Grand Sultan' is another camellia that may have been mistakenly labeled as 'Mathotiana'.

Does anyone have a clear idea of what the real 'Mathotiana' looks like? Comparison photos would be very welcome!

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vmr I don't know if this is going to help you,but I looked in G.G. Gerbing 's book on camellias written in 1945 and he list Mathotiana rubra with the synonyms of Julia Drayton, Purple emperor, purple dawn and W.S. Hastie. This is his description, This plant is covered with large , glossy,dark green foliage, very smooth texture. A vigorous, compact, symmetrical grower that blooms from November to March. Can be depended on to develop blooms that are practically perfect. Quite hardy. Can be planted in full sun. this on page 150-151 On page 152 is another entry same name basicly the same info with the note that some nurseries in Georgia are selling this under the name of W.S. Hastie, while the remainder of the nurseries in America employ any or all of the above names . Plant in sun or shade. the above names are the same as listed in first paragraph.
Now I will add my one cents worth. You might find photo comparisons on the net at assorted camellia sites. Who knows how many people were planting seeds of these camellias just like people do now and if the seed came from Mathotiana then by all means that is what it must be, I am kidding there I just know how some people think. Few people knew about genetics or cared they just planted the seed from granmas plant and had one like hers or at least similar. I hope the info from Mr. Gerbing helped and my one cents worth well you know what it is worth.
James in Florida

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 2:01PM
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vmr423(Zone 8b, SC)

Thanks so much for the info from Gerbings. I'm sure that you're right about some people planting seeds and assuming the offspring were the same variety as the parent. I heard recently about a gentleman who had a yard with many seedlings he had planted; he went through an illustrated book on camellias and whatever flower looked most like his seedlings' flowers- that's what he'd call the plant.

I was pretty much resigned to not knowing how to tell 'Mathotiana' from 'Julia Drayton', then I encountered this photo from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and to me it looks like 'Prof Sargent' only with larger surrounding petals:

I would guess that some European gardeners might have an idea of what Mathot's 'Mathotiana' looks like, but maybe nobody really knows- I sure don't!

Thanks again for the Gerbing description- it agrees with the ICR descriptions, but neither source mentions how to tell one variety from the others- possibly they just aren't sure...

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 2:35PM
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vmr423(Zone 8b, SC)

Here's a photo of my American 'Mathotiana'- it just began to bloom this week. If past years are any guide, it will continue blooming through February or March...

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 1:52AM
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I have read your query with interest. I have been a gardener for many years. Back in the 70's I saw the beautiful Mathotiana camellias at Notcutts Nursery of Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK. They are camellias of exceptional beauty, and there were 3 variaties that I remember. All were formal doubles, an exquisite shape. One a rich blood red, and two others were Mathatiana alba (pure white), and lastly Mathatiana rosea - an equisite palest pink. I bought the pink one, but promptly lost it; perhaps too much water - killed with kindness; I was so eager to keep it, but had little experience back then.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2015 at 7:50AM
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vmr423(Zone 8b, SC)

I think that what is called 'Mathotiana' in Europe is that rich red color that you recall, and that seems likely to be Mathot's camellia. There are two distinctive camellias called 'Mathotiana rubra' in photos I see on Japanese garden blogs... I suspect the dark red one hails from Europe, and the purple-tinged bright pink one was imported from the U.S. back in the days when importing plants wasn't so convoluted and expensive a procedure.

I suspect that 'Julia Drayton' is not the same as what I think of as 'Mathotiana', though I don't know if the NYBG camellia is the real 'Julia Drayton'. The International Camellia Society has taken the position that 'Julia D', the American 'Mathotiana' and 'Purple Dawn' are all the same.

I suspect that the Gerbing description from 1945 provides the basis for the IRC decision to equate these camellias, but he may just have been reporting on various names that were confused in commerce at the time. That is not the same as saying these different varieties are actually synonymous...

The American Camellia Society does not equate 'Julia D' and 'Mathotiana'. I'm not sure what their stance is on 'Purple Dawn', and have misplaced my nomenclature book.

Of course, they are all lovely flowers, and they are just as beautiful no matter what they're called, but the history of plants and their names has a certain fascination, doesn't it?



    Bookmark   on Monday at 12:13PM
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Yes, there are two different plants called 'Mathotiana'. The one in Europe and England is a clear red, ours, of course, is not and the one from Europe is accepted as the one listed in the old literature, not the present. The Southern California Camellia Society is the publisher of the nomenclature books that we use, the American Camellia Society adopted it as the official nomenclature book. The US synonyms' are,'Julia Drayton', ' Mathotiana Rubra', 'Purple Dawn', 'Purple Emperor', and 'Purple Prince'. Often the case was for one to import a plant and the tag would be missing or one would just decide to change to name to be 'more local'. This, however, did not happen here as these are two different varieties.

    Bookmark   12 hours ago
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I would just like to comment again on the photograph of the camellia on this page (if page is right word); it appears to be a double, but not a formal double, which I remember of the mathotianas in the UK back in the 70s. I am concerned that as I have got older, I'm noticing here in UK, that all the lovely old varieties (including roses, and other shrubs etc.), are being superceded by just too many new varieties, and we will loose some old treasures, as people will never see them for sale any more. I was disappointed with the RHS here in England, while a big change, and re-plant of their rose grounds some years back took place.....many of the wonderful old French climbing roses of the last couple of centuries are nowhere to be seen......but so many newcomers taking over.

    Bookmark   11 hours ago
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Mathotiana, in the United States can go to rose form double but the picture is what we consider formal double which is the most common form. Rose form double seems to take place later in the season when the stamen show.

I definitely agree with you that our older varieties are not given the recognition and preservation that they should. My interest is in the ones introduced in the USA prior to 1900 and I am collecting them to be planted at the LSU Burden Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where they will get care from now on out. I visited England a few years ago and enjoyed seeing many of these old varieties very much. I am having a difficult time locating these to propagate. If anyone knows of these old varieties, please contact me. I think that, perhaps, many of the ones I cannot locate are in the northeast and down the eastern coast.

    Bookmark   11 hours ago
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