Schima is a rare and attractive genus of broad-leaved evergreen trees of sub-tropical to warm temperate regions of Asia. There seems to be some controversy as to whether there is one quite variable species in the genus or several similar species. If only one, then it would be Schima wallichii. Regardless, this is a relatively new and highly worthy candidate for warm weather gardens. It is a member of the Theaceae, or tea family, and is closely related to the genera Gordonia and Camellia and bears similarities to both. In the dense Asian forests they can become quite tall with some reportedly exceeding a hundred feet, but in garden settings they seem to reach about 20 to 30 feet. They are typically low-branching, single trunk trees with new leaves that are a bright shiny red maturing to a handsome, dark green at about 7 inches long. This attractive evergreen foliage qualifies the tree for a screen or hedge and as they can take full sun to partial shade, they are quite versatile. An additional asset are the flowers. They start blooming in late summer, when so many other plants have played out. The creamy white flowers are five petaled, with bright, golden-yellow stamens and are produced in showy clusters at the branch tips. These  2 inch blossoms are also noted for fragrance, unlike most camellias.
Schimas, at present, are connoisseur trees, and are found only in the most exotic nurseries. They seem able to withstand temperatures below freezing for short times, which qualifies them for the Southern US, Australia and parts of the UK and New Zealand. With their lush, evergreen foliage, and sweet flowers that come at such a welcome time, Schima would be a wonderful addition to any garden.



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