Many think that Nymphaea 'Odorata Sulphurea Grandiflora'
and N. 'Sunrise' are distinctly different yellow hardy
waterlilies. N. 'Odorata Sulphurea Grandiflora' was hybridized
by Latour-Marliac in 1888. Nymphaea 'Sunrise' is a large
yellow hybrid thought to be of American origin, year of introduction
unknown. There are descriptions of both plants in various publications,
catalogues etc. I have spent considerable time in putting as
many descriptions of both plants that I can find in this article.
Americans were happy that the US had produced a yellow hardy
hybrid (N. 'Sunrise') and the Europeans were eager to
import it from the US and introduce it as a new hybrid of superior
merit. So what, you may ask, is the problem?
In 1993, Ray Davies, past president of the IWGS and owner
of Stapeley Water Gardens in the UK and also owner of Latour-Marliac
establishment in France, published the IWLS Identification of
Hardy Nymphaea. This publication had the description of 176 hardy
waterlilies complete with color drawings of each plant. In this
publication there was no mention of N. 'Sunrise'; only
N. 'Odorata Sulphurea Grandiflora' was described. When
I met Ray Davies for the first time in Cyprus in 1999, I questioned
him about the N. 'Odorata Sulphurea Grandiflora / N.
He said that between 1927 to 1935 Johnson Water gardens of
Hynes, California, gradually changed N. 'Odorata Sulphurea
Grandiflora' to N. 'Sunrise'. This statement appears in
the preface of IWLS Identification of Hardy Nymphaea. I must
confess that at that time I had my doubts. Here was a man who
dared to tell the water garden world that for the past 60 years
they had all been mislead. Some tended to believe him and others
like me were still in doubt.
The whole issue lingered on for several years with some publications
mentioning that N. 'Sunrise' was a synonym for N.
'Odorata Sulphurea Grandiflora', and others describing the plants
as being different. I would therefore like to produce evidence
to convince all that N. 'Sunrise' is actually N.
'Odorata Sulphurea Grandiflora'.
Looking at the Johnson Water gardens catalogues we can see
that in the catalogue of 1927 there is no mention of N.
'Sunrise', only N. 'Odorata Sulphurea Grandiflora'.
Johnson catalogue 1927:
The first instance where 'Sunrise' is mentioned is in the
Johnson Water Gardens 1930 catalogue, where it is clear that
N. 'Sunrise' is actually N. 'Odorata Sulphurea
introduced by us over forty years
ago from Marliac in France".
Johnson catalogue 1930:
In the 1931 Johnson Water Gardens catalogue N. 'Odorata
Sulphurea Grandiflora' does not appear at all and is replaced
by N. 'Sunrise'.
Johnson catalogue 1931:
The 1935 Johnson Water Gardens catalogue again only mentions
'Sunrise'. There were some other name changes as well. For example
'Pygmaea Helvola' is mentioned as Yellow Pygmy, 'Chromatella'
as Marliac Yellow, 'Marliacea Rosea' as Marliac Rose etc.
Johnson catalogue 1935:
There is no mention of N. 'Odorata Sulphurea Grandiflora'
The name N. 'Sunrise' was starting to appear in US
water garden centers. Across Europe nurseries were all excited
and eager to import the new N. 'Sunrise'. A new introduction
from the US, an outstanding variety, a superb new yellow, finest
yellow introduced, a glorious yellow, etc. The price of N.
'Sunrise' was much higher than any of the other yellow varieties.
It was being sold at for US$5 instead of the US$1 to US$2 for
some of the other waterlilies. If they had not seen the Johnson
1930 catalogue, how would anyone think that this plant might
actually be N. 'Odorata Sulphurea Grandiflora'?