1. Methods for the separation and determination of the polyphenolic components of the tea plant by thin-layer chromatography and colorimetric reactions have been devised. 2. High concentrations of catechins, flavonols and depsides were found to be restricted to the young vegetative and floral shoots, whereas leucoanthocyanins or flavylogens were characteristic of the more bulky axial tissues of the plant. 3. In the young shoots cell growth was correlated with an increasing degree of flavonoid B-ring hydroxylation. 4. Maximal flavylogen concentrations occurred in the outer protective layers of stem and of seed coat. 5. Mature leaves were shown to contain derivatives of the flavones apigenin and luteolin. 6. Developing seedlings showed a steady increase in polyphenol complexity; flavylogens were concentrated at shoot and root apices and accumulated at the stem base. 7. It is postulated that the flavanols (leucoanthocyanins and catechins), because they can co-polymerize, are of use to the plant for protection of wood and bark against infection and decay.

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