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
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
Knotts, Kit. Victoria's
Padilla, Victoria. Southern California Gardens, 1961, p. 87,
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
Click image to enlarge, accompanied by Tricker's description.