Charles Antoine Lemaire 1800-1871

Charles Antoine Lemaire, editor of important horticulture journals of his time, was born in Paris in 1800. He attended the University of Paris and, though he became Professor of Classical Literature there, he had developed an interest in botany. His first serious project in the world of horticulture was assisting Parisian nurseryman M. Mathieu in creating a collection of cacti. He is best known today for his work with this family, about which he wrote several books. Most of his writing however appeared in the general horticultural periodicals of which he was editor.

Nymphaea Devoniensis
C. Lemaire
Le Jardin Fleuriste
Gand, chez les éditeurs et E. Gyselynck, 1851-1854
Image from Antiquariaat Junk

In 1838, Lemaire became editor of H. Cousin's horticultural journal L'Horticulteur Universel . He moved from Paris to Gent, Belgium, in 1845 to be an editor of Louis van Houtte's, Flore des Serres et des Jardins de l'Europe. Nine years later, he joined a collaborative effort of some of the great plant specialists, hybridizers and hunters of the day to become the editor of L'Illustration Horticole, founded by Ambroise Verschaffelt of the Nursery Verschaffelt family and Jean Linden, the renowned orchid hunter and editor of Les Orchidees. He held that position for sixteen years until Linden bought up the Verschaffelt Établissement and gave the editorship of L'Illustration Horticole to Edouard André. André wrote in 1871, "Posterity will esteem M. Lemaire more highly than did his contemporaries." Lemaire died in Paris in 1871.

It was his article about Nymphaea Devoniensis, published in L'Illustration Horticole in 1854, that inspired Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac to attempt the hybridization of waterlilies. Decades later Latour-Marliac introduced a great many outstanding hybrid hardy waterlilies and today remains perhaps the single best Nymphaea hybridizer of all time.

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