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Journal of Tea Science ›› 2022, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (4): 491-499.doi: 10.13305/j.cnki.jts.2022.04.007

• Research Paper • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Nomenclature, Typification, and Natural Distribution of Camellia sinensis var. assamica (Theaceae)

ZHAO Dongwei   

  1. Department of Forestry, College of Forestry, Central South University of Forestry and Technology, Changsha 410004, China
  • Received:2021-12-19 Revised:2022-02-22 Online:2022-08-15 Published:2022-08-23

Abstract: Camellia sinensis var. assamica (Theaceae) is a globally cultivated plant for beverages. The efforts to clarify its nomenclature and type are reviewed here. Griffith proposed Camellia sect. Thea (L.) Griff. as a name at new rank rather than a new taxon in 1854 based on Art. 41.4 of the Shenzhen Code. Camellia sealyana T.L. Ming is excluded from sect. Thea because of its abaxially punctate leaves and free styles. Masters did not validly publish Thea assamica in 1844, but this Latin name was validated in 1847 by Hooker. Steenis first proposed the new combination, Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze var. assamica (Hook.) Steenis, in 1949, and this is the accurate scientific name for Assam tea. The specimen, W. Griffith s.n. (K000939670) at herbarium K, was designated as the neotype of T. assamica in 2021. Seven known heterotypic synonyms of C. sinensis var. assamica and their protologues and types were summarized here. Although Darlington and Ammal proposed the new combination, C. assamica, in 1945, Assam tea is, however, widely accepted as a variety of C. sinensis based on morphological, geological, and phylogenetic analyses. If the specific rank was applied, the earlier heterotypic name of Assam tea, C. theifera published in 1838, would gain priority over C. assamica. Then the widely used epithet “assamica” might be conserved under Art. 14 of the Shenzhen Code. The natural distribution of Assam tea was summarized based on the comprehensive examination of specimens collected from China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The status of natural populations of Assam tea in each country was discussed with the different applications of utilization and conservation.

Key words: Camellia sect. Thea, Camellia sinensis var. assamica, Indochina, scientific name, wild tea

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