, Volume 255, Issue 6, pp 1777–1784 | Cite as

Anatomical structure of Camellia oleifera shell

  • Jinbo Hu
  • Yang Shi
  • Yuan Liu
  • Shanshan ChangEmail author
Original Article


The main product of Camellia oleifera is edible oil made from the seeds, but huge quantities of agro-waste are produced in the form of shells. The primary components of C. oleifera fruit shell are cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, which probably make it a good eco-friendly non-wood material. Understanding the structure of the shell is however a prerequisite to making full use of it. The anatomical structure of C. oleifera fruit shells was investigated from macroscopic to ultrastructural scale by stereoscopic, optical, and scanning electron microscopy. The main cell morphology in the different parts of the shell was observed and measured using the tissue segregation method. The density of the cross section of the shell was also obtained using an X-ray CT scanner to check the change in texture. The C. oleifera fruit pericarp was made up of exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp. The main types of exocarp cells were stone cells, spiral vessels, and parenchyma cells. The mesocarp accounted for most of the shell and consisted of parenchyma, tracheids, and some stone cells. The endocarp was basically made up of cells with a thickened cell wall that were modified tracheid or parenchyma cells with secondary wall thickening. The most important ultrastructure in these cells was the pits in the cell wall of stone and vessel cells that give the shell a conducting, mechanical, and protective role. The density of the shell gradually decreased from exocarp to endocarp. Tracheid cells are one of the main cell types in the shell, but their low slenderness (length to width) ratio makes them unsuitable for the manufacture of paper. Further research should be conducted on composite shell-plastic panels (or other reinforced materials) to make better use of this agro-waste.


Camellia oleifera shell Anatomical structure Exocarp Mesocarp Endocarp 


Authors’ contributions

Conceived and designed the experiments: JH, YL, SC; Performed the experiments: JH, YS, SC; Analyzed the data: JH, YS, YL, SC; Wrote the paper: JH, YS, SC. All authors contributed to preparing the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding information

This work was financially supported by the Hunan Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (2017JJ1038), Opening Project of National Engineering Research Center for Oil-tea Camellia (2014CY02) in China.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Ethics approval and consent to participate are not applicable in this study.

Consent for publication

Consent for publication is not applicable in this study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jinbo Hu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yang Shi
    • 1
  • Yuan Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shanshan Chang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Materials Science and EngineeringCentral South University of Forestry and TechnologyChangshaChina
  2. 2.Hunan Provincial Collaborative Innovation Center for High-efficiency Utilization of Wood and Bamboo ResourcesCentral South University of Forestry and TechnologyChangshaChina
  3. 3.Chinese National Engineering Research Center for Oiltea CamelliaChangshaChina

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