|Authors: || Donglin Zhang, L. Stack, Riqing Zhang, Jiangfan Yu, Bixia Xie, Yongzhong Chen, J.M. Ruter|
|Keywords: ||Camellia oleifera, clone, cooking oil, cultivar, hypocotyl grafting, new crop, oil, olive, ornamental, propagation, teaoil|
Teaoil Camellia (Camellia oleifera Abel.) is a promising horticultural crop that has been cultivated for various purposes in China for more than 1000 years.
It is a small tree, which grows naturally from latitudes of 18° to 34° North and in acidic soils where January mean temperatures do not drop below 2°C. As cooking oil, it compares favorably with olive oil, stores well at room temperature, and has a high smoke temperature.
Teaoil is also used in the manufacture of soap, margarine, hair oil, lubricants, paint, rustproof oil and other compounds with a high-molecular weight as well as in cosmetology and dermopharmacy.
Extracts from the residues of teaoil processing have been used in livestock feeds, pesticides and fertilizers.
The use of tea oil products in controlling rice blast and wheat rust also suggests potential for the development of new biological-based pesticides from this plant.
Although edible tea oil production covers about 40,000 km2 in China, other countries know little about this species, only planting it as an ornamental plant.
To share this valued crop to the world, selecting promising clones for targeted habitats is the key to success.
Cloning propagation using hypocotyl grafting is recommended.
Management practices, such as preparing planting sites with organic fertilizer, controlling weeds, thinning, pruning, alternating harvest time, improving harvest techniques, etc., could significantly increase the economic return for C. oleifera plantations.
Further studies on the genetic improvement of tea oil will improve its popularity around the world.
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