Unravelling Julia Drayton.

There are some groups of camellias that seem particularly problematic as far as correct naming goes. One such group centres around ‘Julia Drayton’. The variety was found and named at Magnolia Gardens, John’s Island, South Carolina but is thought to have come from Europe originally. No similar variety has been found in Europe so it has not been possible to clear up its origins.
In the Register it is described as very large, rose form or formal double, crimson with a purplish cast on the outer petals.

It is widely known in America as ‘Mathotiana’, an existing and distinct variety. It has aquired a number of synonyms; ‘Purple Dawn’, ‘Purple Emperor’, ‘Purple Prince’, ‘Purple King’, ‘Purple Empress’, ‘Mathotiana Purple King’, ‘Princess Louise’, ‘William S. Hastie’, and, erroneously, ‘Mathotiana Rubra’ and ‘Mathotiana’.
It has also given rise to a range of sports including: ‘Flowerwood’, ‘Sultana’, ‘Red Wonder’, ‘Red Wonder Variegated’, ‘Rosea Superba’, ‘Julia Drayton Variegated’, ‘Mathotiana Supreme’, ‘Mathotiana Supreme Variegated’.

At Mount Edgcumbe there is just one plant in the collection bearing the name ‘Julia Drayton’, at 1M-032. This is a rangy bush growing in full shade which has flowers and foliage indistinguishable from ‘Grand Sultan’ at 5D-008.

Julia-Sultan

‘Julia Drayton’ (1M-032) and ‘Grand Sultan’ (5D-008)

Near to ‘Julia Drayton’ are two plants of ‘Flowerwood’, which is supposed to be a fimbriated sport of ‘Julia Drayton’, identical except for fimbriated petals. Both are carrying flowers with no trace of fimbriation and quite distinct from ‘Julia Drayton’/’Grand Sultan’, as is the foliage. They are however, identical in both respects to another nearby plant, IN-061 labelled ‘Purple Emperor’.
Looking back at pictures of ‘Flowerwood’ from previous years, they have sometimes shown light fimbriation at the tips of the petals.

Emperor-Flowerwood

‘Purple Emperor’ (1N-061) and ‘Flowerwood’ (1M-018)

 

I have high confidence of the identity of ‘Grand Sultan’ as its sport ‘Augusto Leal de Gouveia Pinto’ (5D-002) is unmistakeable and is identical to ‘Grand Sultan’ in leaf as well as producing the occasional reverted identical bloom. I am satisfied that 1M-032 is in fact ‘Grand Sultan’ not ‘Julia Drayton’.
It seems highly likely that the two ‘Flowerwood’ at 1M-018 and 1M-019 and the identical ‘Purple Emperor’ at 1N-061 are all ‘Julia Drayton’.

Lastly, the plant labelled ‘Mathotiana’ at 1P-026 is also ‘Grand Sultan’. It was apparently grafted onto ‘Gwavas’ and the rootstock had grown taller than the scion variety. It has now been removed.

Grand-Sultan

‘Grand Sultan’ (1P-026), corrected from ‘Mathotiana’ and with ‘Gwavas’ stock removed.

‘Grand Sultan’, like ‘Julia Drayton’, has also been wrongly distributed under the name ‘Mathotiana’.
‘Mathotiana Alba’ and its sports ‘Mathotiana Rose’ and ‘Souvenir de Bahoud Litou’ are not related to ‘Mathotiana’, Julia Drayton’ or ‘Grand Sultan’.

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