St. Louis Plants

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First opening its gates in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden has a rich history of connecting St. Louis with plants. But did you know St. Louis’ ties to plants also include multiple cultivars bearing its name? The following are stories of three cultivars linked to the Gateway to the West.

Nymphaea 'St. Louis' water lily
Nymphaea ‘St. Louis’ | Photo by Harvey Barrison

Nymphaea ‘St. Louis’

Nymphaea ‘St. Louis’ is a yellow-flowering tropical waterlily patented by George H. Pring in 1933. Pring was a renowned English horticulturist who made St. Louis his home after joining the staff of the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1906. He traveled the world collecting tropical plant specimens for the Garden, but is most well known for his work breeding orchids and tropical water lilies. Before Pring’s breeding work, yellow-flowering tropical water lilies were not known in cultivation.


Learn more about George Pring’s impact on water lily cultivation at the Garden


Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Raven’ SHAW’S LEGACY) near the Garden’s Lehmann Building

Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Raven’ SHAW’S LEGACY

In 1952, several seedlings of dawn redwood were planted near the John S. Lehmann Building at the Missouri Botanical Garden. As these trees matured, one stood out from the rest. It features a dense, uniform, pyramidal growth habit with evenly spaced branches and good resistance to leaf diseases. In 2010, this plant was patented under the name ‘Raven,’ in honor of retiring Garden president Dr. Peter Raven. You will find this cultivar sold in the trade under the name SHAW’S LEGACY.


Sorghastrum nutans ‘St. Louis’

Sorghastrum nutans ‘St. Louis’

This cultivar of Indian grass was discovered by Brent Horvath of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens, Inc. while traveling to St. Louis for a meeting of the Perennial Plant Association. Just before the Arch came into view, a bright red grass growing on the roadside caught his eye. At first Mr. Horvath thought this plant was a big bluestem given its bright orange-red color. But after collecting a specimen and seeing the flower, it became clear it was Indian grass. The cultivar name ‘St. Louis’ was chosen to honor this chance encounter.

Catherine Martin
Public Information Officer

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