Paris, France

Vilmorin is a French seed producer. Along with its international subsidiaries, the company considers itself to be the fourth largest seed company in the world.[1] The company has a long history in France, where it was family-controlled for almost two centuries, and today exists as a publicly traded company owned principally by agro-industrial cooperative Groupe Limagrain, the largest plant breeding and seed company in the European Union.


Vilmorin was founded as a plant and seed boutique in 1742 by seed expert Claude Geoffroy and her husband Pierre Andrieux, the chief seed supplier and botanist to King Louis XV. The store was located on the quai de la Mégisserie, a street in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. In 1774, their daughter married botany enthusiast Philippe-Victoire Levêque de Vilmorin (1746-1804). Together, they revived the stores and created the Vilmorin-Andrieux House, which later became Vilmorin-Andrieux and Company under the leadership of their son, Philippe André de Vilmorin (1776-1862). Philippe-Victoire de Vilmorin began importing trees and exotic plants into Europe in 1766, starting with the American tulip tree, the domesticated beet, and the rutabaga. Such plants were unknown in Europe prior to Vilmorin-Andrieux's commercial promotion of them for food, fodder and ornamentation.

The Vilmorin estate in the Paris suburb of Verrières-le-Buisson, a former hunting lodge of Louis XIV of France, became known for its gardens and arboretum, and the Vilmorin company was headquartered in Verrières-le-Buisson, where it was led by a succession of Vilmorin heirs, including Louis de Vilmorin (1816-1860), Henry de Vilmorin (1843-1899), Maurice de Vilmorin (1849-1918), Philippe de Vilmorin (1872-1917), Jacques de Vilmorin (1882-1933), Louis de Vilmorin (1883-1944), Louise de Vilmorin (1902-1969), Olivier de Vilmorin (1904-1962), Roger de Vilmorin (1905-1980), and André de Vilmorin (1907-1987).[2]

The company produced the first seed catalog for farmers and academics. In 1856, Louis de Vilmorin published "Note on the Creation of a New Race of Beetroot and Considerations on Heredity in Plants", establishing the theoretical groundwork for the modern seed-breeding industry. The company's leaders continued to publish numerous botanical academic articles throughout the company's early history.

In 1972 the company was acquired by René Hodée, a farmer from the Anjou region who relocated the company to La Ménitré, a town to the southwest of Paris. Three years later, in 1975, he sold the company to Groupe Limagrain, which changed the name from Vilmorin-Andrieux to Vilmorin SA in 1986, and in 1989 created the Oxadis division to specialize in Vilmorin's home vegetable garden activities, including vegetable seeds, flowers and trees, plant health products, and various pet and garden supplies for the amateur market. Following this restructuring, Vilmorin focused on vegetable seeds and trees for professionals (growers, seed producers, and nurseries).


In 1981, Limagrain bought U.S. seed producer Ferry-Morse Co. and its operations were eventually folded into the Vilmorin company in 1992. Following the acquisition in 1990 of Dutch seed producer Nickerson Seeds Company, Vilmorin took over the distribution of varieties of vegetables from Nickerson-Zwaan in France. In 1993, Vilmorin went public on the Paris Stock Exchange and acquired Suttons (U.K.) and 25 percent of Australia's Triagro. In 1997, Vilmorin acquired Clause Semense, Clause Jardin, and Harris-Moran Seed Company from Rhone Poulenc, and the distribution of Nickerson-Zwaan products was resumed by their subsidiaries in Italy, Spain and North America. Meanwhile, Vilmorin products were sold in Northern European markets through Nickerson-Zwaan and its subsidiaries. Vilmorin acquired a 12.6 percent stake in Israel's Hazera Genetics (which itself has subsidiaries in Spain, China, and the U.S.) in 1998, and bought Japan's Kyowa Seeds in 2000 and the Netherlands' Keygene in 2001. In 2003 it boosted it share in Hazera to 55%, making it the world leader in the tomato seeds segment. In 2004 Vilmorin acquired Germany's Sperling GmbH and established Marco Polo Seeds Thailand as a spearhead for future Southeast Asia expansion.

In 2006, after the integration of Limagrain's field seeds activity, the company changed names once again, this time simply to Vilmorin. The company also purchased Japan's Mikado Seed Growers in this year.

In 2007, the company acquired Turkey's Anadolu and China's LPHT, and in 2008, it bought a stake in Australia's Australian Grain Technologies.


More recently, in 2008, the company was attempting to sell its Oxadis and Suttons subsidiaries.[3]


  1. ^ "Vilmorin: Cultivating the Taste of Life [Corporate site in English]". "Fourth largest seeds company in the world, Vilmorin is expert in the creation of novel vegetable and field crop plants." 

  2. ^ "Vilmorin Dynastie et Patrimoine: Une famille au cœur de l'histoire". "Depuis la fondation de la maison il y a 250 ans, Vilmorin s'inscrit en filiation directe avec l'excellence. C'est l'étude de la médecine qui amène Philippe Victoire de Vilmorin, créateur de la maison Vilmorin, remarquable scientifique, à l'étude de la botanique. Ses traveaux ont un retentissement bien au-delà des frontières de la France. Si bien que le roi Louis XV le fit "Matîre Graniere et Botaniste de sa Majesté le roi de France." 

  3. ^ Michelson, Marcel (2008-11-12). "French seed group Vilmorin ends Oxadis sale talks". Reuters. Retrieved on 2009-07-10. 


  • Gustave Heusé, Les Vilmorin (1746-1899) : Philippe Victoire Levêque de Vilmorin (1746-1804); Pierre Philippe André Levêque de Vilmorin (1776-1862); Pierre Louis François Levêque de Vilmorin (1816-1860); Charles Philippe Henry Levêque de Vilmorin (1843-1899), Librairie agricole de la Maison rustique, Paris, 1899, 32 p.

  • Le guide Clause-Vilmorin du jardin, Oxadis, Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, 2008 (35th edition), 719 p. ISBN 2-9512916-4-7.

External links



  2. The Vegetable Garden, MM,  Vilmorin-Andrieux



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