Liriodendron tulipifera flower

The University of North Carolina
A Department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium
Information compiled May  2012 by
Carol Ann McCormick, Asst. Curator, University of North Carolina Herbarium

Norman Anderson Reasoner
(28 June 1896 -  29 December 1957)

The University of North Carolina Herbarium has about fifty vascular plant specimens and three dozen fungal specimens collected by N.A. Reasoner.  Most were collected in and around his home in Oneco, Manatee County, Florida in 1915 or around the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when he was a student in 1916-1917.  As NCU’s collections continue to be catalogued more specimens deposited by Reasoner may be found.  Other herbaria holding specimens collected by Norman A. Reasoner include FH, NY and TENN.

Information on all NCU’s fungal specimens can be found at


Norman Anderson Reasoner was born into a horticultural family.  “Florida’s oldest, continuously operated nursery … began on November 27, 1881 when Pliny Ward Reasoner landed on the shores of the Manatee River.  His brother Egbert joined him in 1885 and they searched Florida and the entire world for new and unusual plants.  The Reasoner brothers brought hundreds of new tropical plants, shrubs, trees and vines to Florida.  The Pink Grapefruit was introduced to the world by Egbert.” (1)  Reasoner’s Inc., also called Royal Palm Nursery, celebrated its centennial in 1981.  In that same year the work of Pliny and Egbert Reasoner was recognized with Florida Heritage Landmark sign (27d26.833 N, 82d31.551 W), “Pioneer Florida Nurserymen” [text below]. (3, 4)

The Reasoner Brothers, Pliny Ward (1863-1888) and Egbert Norman (1869-1926), founded Florida’s oldest continually operated nursery.  Pliny landed at DeSoto Point in 1881 at age 18.  Pliny, a prolific writer, authored the USDA Bulletin No. 1, “Condition of Tropical Fruit in the U.S.”  He was a volunteer in the famed Sarasota Abbe murder posse; Superintendent of the Florida Subtropical Expo in Jacksonville enjoyed by President and Mrs. Grover Cleveland; Commissioner to the Florida Exhibit at the Cotton States Centennial in Cincinnati.  Returning to minister to yellow fever patients, he died at 25 after 6 plus years in Florida – in active plant exchange with major Botanical Gardens and nurseries all over the earth – internationally famous, appreciated and loved.

Egbert, arriving in Florida at the age of 16, published annually the famous catalog begun in 1883 and continued introducing into Florida exotic plants from every corner of the earth.

Reasoner Brothers – Landscape Architects founded in 1918, is the oldest in the South.

The back of the marker contains the following information:

Palms:  Acrocomia, Chamaedorea, Dictyosperma, Fishtail, Panama Hat Palm, Paurotis, Prichardia, Royal Palm
Trees:  Acacia, Albizzia, Bauhinia, Callitris, Cassia, Casuarina, Covillea, Enterolobium, Erythrina, Ficus, Hippocratea, Nelaleuca, Pithecolobium, Podocarpus, Ravenala, Tabebuia-Gold Tree
Shrubs:  Agave, Aralia, Asparagus, Bamboo, Bottle Brush, Brunfelsia, Caladium, Clerodentrum [sic; Clerodendrum ?], Crinum, Crotalaria, Crepe Myrtle, Croton, Dombeya, Furcraea, Gardenia, Hedychium, Hibiscus, Justicia, Kaempferia, Lawsonia, Malpighia, Malvaviscus, Moraea, Oleander, Sesbania, Severinia, Tabernaemontana, Thryallis
Vines:  Aristolochia, Beaumontia, Bougainvillea, Hiptage Benghalenisis, Porana, Quisqualis, Thunbergia
Fruit:  World’s 1st pink grapefruit – Foster and Thompson.  Avacado, Black berries, Ceylon peach, Cleopatra mandarin, Eugenia, Fig, Garcinia, Guave, Loquat, Lychee, Macadamia nut, Mango, Meiwa Kumquat, Nutmeg, Oneco mandarin, Rangpur lime, Royal grapefruit, Thornless Key lime


Norman Anderson Reasoner’s parents, Egbert Norman Reasoner (1869-1926; born in Illinois) and Sarah Burrows Anderson ( ~1871 – 1929; born in Iowa), were married in October, 1895.  Their home, “Beth Salem,” was a wedding present from Sarah’s father and was designed by Sarah’s cousin, Parker T. Burrows.  Beth Salem is on the National Register of Historic Places (9500055 National Register Information System). (12)  “The site of Beth Salem is Oneco, an unincorporated area of Manatee County.  Oneco is approximately 6 miles from downtown Bradenton, the nearest incorporated city.  It has been alleged that Oneco got its name as a result of Reasoner Brothers’ Nurseries.  Railway bills ad lading identified the town as One Co. stop; thus the name Oneco  The original landscape around the house was laid out to ‘resemble the ways of nature’ based on Mr. Reasoner’s theory of ‘carrying out the informal groupings of the Great Gardener’ as the ideal plan of landscape gardening. “ (2, 7, 10)  Egbert Norman Reasoner collected lichens; these are curated by the Field Museum (F) and are cataloged at  .


Norman Reasoner’s parents, Sarah & Egbert Reasoner (date unknown)
photograph courtesy of Royal Palm Nurseries


Pliny (b. ~ 1895), Julia (1899 - 1975) and Norman Reasoner on porch of Beth Salem (7, 13)
(date unknown)
photo courtesy of Royal Palm Nurseries

Norman Anderson Reasoner entered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1913 and graduated with a B.A. in 1917. (5)  While at UNC-CH he was active in the Y.M.C.A., Tennis Association, Dramatic Association, Phi Society, and was Associate Editor of the Tar Heel. (6)  The 1920 Federal Census has Norman living at home in Oneco and working in the family nursery business. (8) 


Egbert, Julia, Pliny, Norman and Sarah Reasoner in east yard of “Beth Salem”
(date unknown, pre-1926)
photo courtesy of Royal Palm Nurseries


Front row, left to right:  Priscilla May Reasoner (daughter of Norman), Sarah Burrows Reasoner (Norman’s mother), Egbert Reasoner (Norman’s father) 
Back row, left to right:  Dorothy Chambers (Norman’s wife), Norman Reasoner, Julia Reasoner Hastings (Norman’s sister)
Photograph dated 1926, Reasoner’s Royal Palm Nursery, Bradenton, Florida, courtesy of Reasoner family

Norman married Dorothy Elizabeth Chambers on 10 November, 1920, and together they had two children, Priscilla May (b. 1921) and Egbert S. “Bud” (b. ~ 1926). (9)  Upon Egbert Reasoner’s death in 1926, Norman and his sister, Julia, took over running Royal Palm Nursery.  

Norman A. Reasoner died 29 December 1957 and is buried in Manasota Memorial Park in Florida.  (11) 





1.       100 Years of Service, 1000 Years of Experience.  Advertisement on page 12-3, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Friday, Nov. 27, 1981.,6460799

2.      “Historical photos & anecdotes.”  Reasoner’s Royal Palm Nurseries.

3.      “Historical marker.”  Reasoner’s Royal Palm Nurseries.


5.      Personal communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Alumni Records office, 22 May 2012.

6.      Yackety Yack, 1916.  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

7.      1910 Federal Census; Precint 16 Manatee County, Florida.

8.      1920 Federal Census

9.      1930 Federal Census

10.  Florida Death Index 1877-1998 record for Sarah A. Reasoner.











   Curriculum in Ecology                 North Carolina Botanical Garden         Biology Department      
      Curriculum                               North Carolina                         UNC

      in Ecology                                 Botanical Garden             Biology Dept.


University of North Carolina Herbarium
CB# 3280, Coker Hall
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280
phone: (919) 962-6931

email: mccormickATSIGNunc.

29 May 2017