Edmund D. Sturtevant

by Kit Knotts - Click images to enlarge

Edmund Sturtevant established the first aquatics nursery in the United States in Bordentown, New Jersey, in 1876, with its first catalog published in 1881. Sturtevant developed a large collection of species and hybrid waterlilies from around the world and was, in many cases, the first to introduce them in America. His tropical night blooming hybrid N. 'Sturtevantii' was introduced in 1884 and is still in cultivation today.

Edward Rand sent Victoria seeds from Para, Brazil, to Sturtevant and the resulting plants flowered in 1886. They were slightly different from those flowered before, said to have taller, wavier rims than the known form of V. regia. They were called V. regia var. Randii, have been lost to cultivation, and not been rediscovered in the wild.

About 1894, the Sturtevant nursery was moved to the Hollywood, California, area, as Sturtevant was anxious to grow aquatics without the protection of greenhouses in winter. In the December 9, 1896, issue of

Image from
Johnson Water Garden Catalog

Garden and Forest, Sturtevant wrote, "In the water-garden hardy Nymphaeas take very kindly to this climate . . . The tropical varieties bloom profusely for a long period, but owing to the cool nights neither flowers nor leaves are quite as large as in the east. The same may be said for Victoria regia, if grown without artificial heat."

In the same article, he wrote, "The hybridist who takes Water-lilies for his subjects has many failures. The bees are often more successful. I find it impossible to get seed of Nymphaea gracilis true to color if the plants are growing near the Zanzibar lilies, unless the flowers are protected from insects." Thus Sturtevant was one of the first to introduce gracilis x capensis hybrids, today known as the "star lilies".

In 1921 the nursery was sold to Harry Johnson, who moved it to Hynes, California, and renamed it Johnson Cactus and Water Gardens.

N. 'Sturtevantii'


Knotts, Kit. Victoria's History
Padilla, Victoria. Southern California Gardens, 1961, p. 87, 271.
Sturtevant, Edmund D. Aquatics in California. Garden and Forest, December 9, 1896
Johnson Water Gardens Catalog, 1929, p.1.
University of Delaware -
The Art of Botanical Illustration - Nursery and Seed Catalogs

< Image from The Water Garden by William Tricker, 1897.
Click image to enlarge, accompanied by Tricker's description.


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