Terra Nostra Garden 2023 dataset of Camellia species, hybrids and their cultivars (Azores, Portugal)

Costa, C., Costa, F., Trota, A., Borges, P.A.V., Monjardino, P. & Pereira, M.J. (2023) Terra Nostra Garden 2023 dataset of Camellia species, hybrids and their cultivars (Azores, Portugal).

Biodiversity Data Journal, 11, e109193. DOI:10.3897/BDJ.11.e109193 (IF2021 1,550; Q3 Biodiversity Conservation)
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  • Nov, 2023



Camellias cultivars collections, comprising an exquisite array of meticulously bred and curated camellia varieties, emerged as indispensable elements within the resplendent 19th century gardens that adorned landscapes across the globe. The heart of Terra Nostra Garden, nestled within the captivating surroundings of the Furnas volcano on S. Miguel Island (Azores, Portugal), started in the year 1782 as an enchanting fishpond garden, strategically positioned in front of the summer house belonging to the esteemed Thomas Hickling, the American vice-consul. Soon this garden was enlarged and embellished with species from several continents. This tradition continued during all the 19th century with the Viscount Duarte Borges da Câmara Medeiros (1848-1872) and his son the Marquis António Borges Medeiros Dias da Câmara e Sousa (1872-1913). In 1933, the 12 hectares property was acquired by the Terra Nostra Society, led by Vasco Bensaude and increased to 12.5 hectares. In 1935, the current Terra Nostra Garden Hotel was inaugurated and, two years later, the Terra Nostra Society reopened the botanical garden attached to the hotel, now called Terra Nostra Garden. Beginning in 1982, the Head Gardener embarked on a transformative journey, dedicating his expertise to the meticulous renovation and expansion of numerous botanical collections nestled within the garden's enchanting landscapes. Amongst the remarkable transformations, the revered camellias collection received special attention, as it underwent a comprehensive rejuvenation process under his skilful guidance. The recent publication of a global digital dataset of Camellia names provides the opportunity to publish the dataset of Camellia species, hybrids and its cultivars currently cultivated at Terra Nostra Garden with their validated names.

New information

In June 2023, a total of 669 Camellia phenotypes were identified across the 12.5 hectares of Terra Nostra Garden. These phenotypes include 38 species, 178 hybrids and 637 cultivars. Camellia japonica represents 81.7% of the 459 species cultivars, while C. x williamsii accounts for 32% of 178 hybrid cultivars. The most prevalent genotypes in Camellia hybrids with known parentage are those of C. japonicaC. saluenensis and C. reticulata present respectively in 64.1%, 45.5% and 37.9% of the hybrids. Regarding cultivar registration, 46.9% were registered in the US, followed by 13% from Japan and 10.8% from Portugal. Although the most ancient cultivar registered growing at the garden is Camellia reticulata Lindl. 'Damanao' from 1621, the majority (69.4%) of cultivars in the garden were registered in the 20th century, followed by the 19th century cultivars (20.7%). One cultivar, Camellia 'Patrícia Bensaude Fernandes', was produced and registered specifically by this garden.