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Franklinia Tree (Franklinia alatamaha)

Glenview, IL

Franklinia Tree
Franklinia alatamaha

This tree is over ten years old in zone 5. Slow growing, beautiful flowers & fall color.

Thumbnail by ktdid2840
Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Beautiful! Is it a distinct variety? What are its distinguishing characteristics? I've never heard of it. I would love to know where you got it.

Glenview, IL

I ordered from a mail order catalog one January while looking out the window at a snow covered yard. Franklinia Alatamaha, no variety given, is how it was marketed. My $29.95 bought a ten inch stick with roots. Although I expected it to become a small tree it has only reached six feet in ten years. The Ben Franklin tree had eight blossoms last fall followed by beautiful red foliage. It has not been bothered by insects or disease nor required winter protection in Illinois. I couldn't be happier. If, however, you are looking for a small tree, you might prefer a parrotica persica.

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Thanks for the info. I've tried Franklinia a couple of times and I killed it both times. I am going to try it again and I will also get a Parrotia also.

Glenview, IL

How odd. In your first post, you said that you had never heard of the Franklinia tree. In your last post you said that you had tried it several times and killed it.

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

I had never heard of 'Ben's Best'.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

It appears that 'Ben's Best' is a name that ktdid2840 created for this particular individual.

The question should have been asked by the PlantFiles admins: is this name registered or published anywhere, and is there a purpose or defining characteristic that gives this plant merit as its own named selection? If not, then one could as easily call it Charley™.

Franklinia alatamaha is easily propagated from cuttings. It is likely that the mailorder company used this propagation method, or got this plant from a nursery that roots cuttings. That means that there are likely many identical plants growing elsewhere, and ascribing a unique name to this one would usually be considered invalid.

If this were a seed-grown plant with unique characteristics that merited definition, or a mutation from a standard plant that was then propagated, then by all means name it, patent or copyright it, and collect the royalties in due course as the horticultural world stampedes to be first in line to have one.

Somewhere out there is an effort to catalog all the Franklinia alatamaha plants in cultivation. It may be under the auspices of Bartram's Garden in Philadelphia - my memory of where I read about that fails me at the moment. ktdid2840 ought to make sure they know about this specimen.

Thumbnail by ViburnumValley
Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Thanks, VV. Now I can stop lusting for a rare variety of Franklin tree. :-p

Glenview, IL

"Ben's Best" just appeared when I added my picture to the information page on Franklinia Altamata. I noted in my picture info that the tree was marketed "no variety given". Sorry for the confusion.

Christiana, TN(Zone 6b)

Kt, is it possible you clicked on the wrong entry when you uploaded your pic? Go to Plantfiles and search 'franklinia' in the genus field. You will get two entries for Franklinia. The species and the variety 'Ben's Best'. Evidently it's valid because Rarefind carries it.

Northern California, United States(Zone 9a)

You can also click on the link in the first post which takes you to the "Ben's Best' cultivar and then click on the Genus word 'Franklinia' and you can see both entries.
If you click on your image in the PlantFile page to enlarge it and then click on the 'Report An Error' button on the top, you can request to have admin move your image over to the correct entry.
Sure is a pretty tree and the blooms are especially lovely!

Stony Brook, NY

So upset....I have a beautiful Franklinia. It lost 2 huge branches in Superstorm Sandy, and now two more in the Blizzard. It has little left. Is there any way to encourage new growth/branches on existing trunk or branches? I refuse to give up on it!

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)


Sorry to hear about your Franklinia plight. I have a twelve year old Franklin Tree that has suffered through two ice storms (2003 and 2009), but has soldiered on. Keep hope.

This is not a good location for you to have posted this question. This web page is for comments about specific (previously posted) pictures - in this case the one from ktdid2840 in Illinois. The only people that will ever see this will be people looking for a picture of Franklinia, not necessarily one of the millions of users of Daves Garden that might offer you specific help for your predicament.

I recommend that you post your question at one of the other forums full of helpful people here at DG:

Beginner Gardening Questions:
Beginner Landscaping:
Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers:
or even
Northeast Gardening:

At this last forum, there is even a long-time participant from Stony Brook - who may very well have a Franklinia in the garden.

Some of this forums may require you to become a subscriber, but others are free to anyone. I hope to see your post for information show up at one of these.

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