Red Camellia Leaves With Ants

In Albums: plants broadleaf evergreens ants

A camellia bush, an evergreen bush with serrated, pointed, oval-shaped leaves, showing a sprout with young, red leaves, with ants walking on it

Jun 12th, 2011, by Alex Zorach

I saw this Camellia plant while walking in West Philadelphia. I'm not sure which particular variety or cultivar it is, but the fact that Philadelphia is farther north than the range for most camellias, combined with the fact that this bush looked particularly robust and healthy, narrows the options down to the more cold-hardy Camellias, mostly varietals or cultivars of Camellia japonica, Camellia sasanqua, and Camellia oleifera, or hybrids of these. All these species are relatives of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis.

This photo shows ants crawling on the leaves; not visible in this photo, but visible in a closeup photo of the ants on these leaves, you can see that the ants are tending aphids feeding on the plant. This is a symbiotic relationship at work, as explained in more depth on the page with the closeup of the aphids.

I also wrote about this photo on my tea blog, in the post Camellia Not Sinensis, And Some Ecology.