Stewartia rostrata Blooms for the First Time
I bought three small Stewartia (also spelled Stuartia) plants last year as a consolation when I missed buying a large specimen Stewartia pseudocamellia at a plant auction. Of the three different kinds I bought, the Stewartia rostrata (aka, beaked or upright Stewartia) has grown twice as fast as the others, S. pseudocamellia and S. monodelpha. I was overjoyed when I saw what looked like buds on the 2 1/2 feet tall shrub about a month ago but being a half empty kind of guy I thought nah, it couldn't be until I saw a bit of white showing from the bud covering. I find it interesting that the bottom petal is much more frilled than the other four petals and almost orchid-like in this quality. The reddish pink blush with dark spots are interesting as well and only appears prominently on one of the petals.
Several websites list S. rostrata as a rare Eastern Chinese species. Apparently it resembles our native S. ovata. The flowers are purported to be 2" in diameter but our first bloom was only 1 1/2" across. Not a large flower but if you like Camellias, you'll probably like Stewartias.
Stewartias belong to the same Theaceae family as the Camellias and tea plant, C. sinensis but are deciduous unlike the evergreen Camellias.
Here's an interesting tidbit on the spelling of Stewartias from Wikipedia:
"The genus was named in 1753 by Carolus Linnaeus to honour John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute. Owing to a transcription error, Linnaeus was given the name as 'Stewart', and consequently spelled the name "Stewartia" (and continued to do so in all his subsequent publications). Some botanists and horticulturists, mainly in the past but still widely in the UK have interpreted Art. 60.1 of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature to consider "Stewartia" an orthographical error to be corrected to Stuartia, but this spelling has not found wide acceptance outside of Europe in recent times. During the 19th century, the spelling Stuartia was "almost universally" used. However, the original spelling "Stewartia" has been accepted, in large part because it continued to be accepted by Linnaeus himself, by virtually all systematic botanists in recent treatments of the family  and genus  as well as in numerous influential horticultural publications."