Did you ever wonder how Florida became a tropical paradise? Much of that credit goes to two brothers from Manatee County, who started a tropical nursery business in 1883. Pliny Reasoner made his way to Florida as a 17 year old, buying 40 acres and starting a tropical plant business. He travelled the Caribbean looking for plants and seeds to try out in his nursery. On one such trip to Cuba, Pliny contracted Yellow Fever and died in Manatee County. In stepped brother Egbert, who took over the business. Reasoner’s thrived through a mail order catalog as they sent tropical plants throughout the world. Mrs. Frederick Crane of West Palm Beach called Sears Catalog “The Florida Bible” and Reasoner’s Catalog “The New Testament” as they were both indispensable in the Florida household. It is said that the first red grapefruit was found in their nursery, an accidental mutation that became one of the most popular citrus varieties.
Several editions of the catalog are available online in Archive.org and are still valuable in learning about tropical plants. There is an active website for Royal Palm Nurseries, but other searches revealed the business to now be closed.
Take a look at this 1896 catalog – Click Here
The mail order concept for tropical plants is still going strong at Stoke’s Tropical Nursery – Click Here