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- Author or Editor: Bing-Qing Hao x
Camellia is one of the four main oil-bearing trees along with olive, palm, and coconut in the world. Known as “Eastern Olive Oil,” camellia oil shares similar chemical composition with olive oil, with high amounts of oleic acid and linoleic acid and low saturated fats. Camellia was first exploited for edible oil in China more than 1000 years ago. Today, its oil serves as the main cooking oil in China’s southern provinces. Introduction of camellia oil into the Western countries was delayed until the recognition of its many health benefits. Although popularity for the oil has yet to grow outside of China, interest has emerged in commercial production of camellia oil in other countries in recent years. Unlike seed-oil plants that are grown on arable land, oil camellias normally grow on mountain slopes. This allows the new crop to take full usage of the marginal lands. To facilitate promoting this valuable crop as an alternative oil source and selecting promising cultivars for targeted habitats, this paper reviews the resources of oil camellias developed in China, use of by-products from oil-refining process, as well as the progress of developing camellias for oil production in China and other nations.