Who "owns" these names and vines?

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

This has come up and I thought it might be a good topic to discuss.

Who owns the "name" of a vine?

Do names have to be patented to prevent others from using it? A vine that comes to mind right off the bat is Sazanami. It is commercially produced by at least two different companies. But the vine and blooms from each of those companies often produces quite different vines/blooms. Is there a Japanese patent on that name?

Who owns the vine?

Does a vine have to be a true hybrid that you can PROVE is your cross before you can claim fame to it? Or is each MG seed considered a unique vine unlike any other? It may have similar traits, but is not exactly the same? Or is the only way to get a true hybrid would be to grow a rooted cutting of the named vine? (Keep in mind that this may not be true for species vines that don't cross, but instead produce consistent vines and blooms for that species.) But ... the possibility of crosses within a species such as I. nil, I. purpurea, tricolor, etc. does exist, so the gene pool may be quite diverse.

If someone grows out Sazanami and the F1 vines grow something different which appears to be either a cross or recessive gene, does that mean it is still Sazanami or is it a unique and new vine?

A quote about Daylilies from http://www.ofts.com/bill/hybrdize.html :

"One question I am frequently asked is if seeds are available to grow a specific cultivar. Sorry, but the answer is no. Even seeds resulting from a plant that was fertilized with it's own pollen will not produce plants that are identical to the parent plant. While the likelyhood is that the plant will be quite similar, usually it will not bloom as well and sometimes the bloom will be completely different than the parent. "

A quote from another website http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07602.html :
"Hybrids do not come true from seed."

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(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

This is an interesting weblink about naming a cultivar:


Garland, TX(Zone 8a)

Becky, I have a go-to source for the intricacies of plant naming and the misuse of patents and trademarks: http://www.plantdelights.com/Trademarks-in-Horticulture/products/534/

Not sure if it will address all your questions, but should cover some.


(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Nick - Interesting article by Tony Avent from Plant Delights Nursery, Inc. Seems most information about naming plants still goes back to the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants and the use of trademarked names.

Thanks for posting the link to that article.

Clatskanie, OR(Zone 8a)

Thanks Becky. That was an awsome read about the international code. I clicked on the name of the authority and went to this page which has ordering information for the most uptodate code.


Boy does that date me and make me feel old. The names of things that have changed,
and so many times. Good research for this group. It needs to go in the sticky.
It also clarifies even more, the need for a Morning Glory Society, to register cultivars with.

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Frank - Therein lies the problem. Many cultivars and crosses do NOT reliably come true from seeds when it comes to certain species like I. nils, I. purpureas, and even tricolors. As has been evidenced here on this forum with all the variations of blooms and vines. I've gotten many a seed in a commercial packet that didn't look at all like the cultivar photo. And similar vines go by different names or different vines go by the same name, so I think it might be very complex to register MG names or promote cultivars with any true basis behind it. Maybe some of the species vines could be registered and listed under a future Society. But as nature proves ... even some of those can be questionable as to the real origin, species, or especially cultivar.

As far as forming a Society, I am sure there are those who would like to start one. Anyone could start a society, it just takes lots of work and commitment.

Getting members to join (which would depend on the reputation of those running it) could prove to be a challenge, IMHO. Obviously, there are those who profit from MGs who might have an ulterior motive to be in a position of power in a MG Society or there could be those who might be seeking a claim to fame that might not serve in the best interest of a such a Society. Qualifications required may vary, depending on each society as they would make their own rules. I would think someone with a Horticultural Degree, perhaps awards for their published works and studies of MGs, and accepted recognition worldwide for their knowledge, as well as their personal experience growing and documenting MGs, are just a few of the attributes that should be required to have a notable Society. But you can have a society with officers that have none of those qualifications. I could start an MG Society in my town, if there was enough gardeners interested to be part of such an organization.

Also ... starting a society doesn't mean it will be recognized by others around the country ... or world. Or by such organizations like the American Horticultural Society http://www.ahs.org/ or other world known societies such as the Royal Horticultural Society http://www.rhs.org.uk/ . It could take many, many years to be recognized and accepted by such well known organizations which might endorse and enable a MG Society to have national and international merit.

I am surprised that the Japanese don't have some sort of Society because they are well known for their Asagao studies at places like Kyushu University. I also think of those like the famous Yoshiaki Yoneda. The Japanese horticulturalists have one of the longest and most extensive studies on MGs dating back to the 1600's. And before that, China cultivated them.

Garland, TX(Zone 8a)

Becky, what about propagating distinctly new I. nil cultivars via cuttings? I realize it's not the easiest way to share one's creations, but it would satisfy the necessity for maintaining genetic uniformity.

edit: just noticed you mentioned that in your first post—sorry!

This message was edited Jul 31, 2011 8:11 PM

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Nick - To propagate new crossed I. nil cultivars from cuttings really doesn't seem worth the effort to me because they are annual vines. If they were perennials, perhaps. But I don't think annual plants would warrant that kind of meticulous propagating and sharing just to preserve someone's crossed creation. Besides ... another gardener could get a very similar vine doing their own cross. Would the minute distinction between the two be worth debating about? I, personally, don't believe so. Which makes it highly unlikely to accurately register I. nil hybrids/cultivars. It's a fact that hybrids do NOT come true from seeds. So what would be the point?

Which, I believe, is why KU uses a numbering system. I know others who grow them also use numbers. I use numbers and letters to label my cups. Though giving them a name might make them more memorable, the name likely won't stick for registration purposes.

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Also, if a society was created and their members decided to register crosses/hybrids, and then claim any seeds are still under the same name ... even if the F1, F2, F3, etc. vines and blooms look nothing like the original plant ... would you go along with that? I wouldn't and I seriously doubt others would either. For one it would get too confusing to accurately ID a vine. The seeds are not producing true to the original plant. Which is why hybrids that are perennials (like daylilies) are actually divided and sold under the registered names. If you get seeds from any of those daylily hybrids and grow them out, they can not carry on the registered name because the plant characteristics (that detail the registered name) have changed with any totally new plants created from those seeds. And each individual seed would create an entirely brand new plant. (Unless they were cloned.)

This message was edited Jul 31, 2011 9:05 PM

Clatskanie, OR(Zone 8a)

In the link above, I read the rules for nameing, and to me they seemed to be very tight and rigid. They don't leave much room for a society to add to the rules. For instance,
Fuji no Monet could not be named until the seeds produce the same flowers, over and over. And then, the first person to give that name to the picture of that flower wouldn't get credit for the name. The one who grew it out long enough to stabilize the original pattern, would have the right to name it. Anything that is not stable, is not, by the rules , yet a cultivar. It would seem, that by now, 5 years after that name was used for a morning glory in a picture, that somewhere, somebody is still growing it every year and trying to stabilize it. If this turns out to be true, and it does get stabilized, the person who succeeded at this would by the rules have naming rights.

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Frank - In my opinion, most I. nils that I have seen on this forum are NOT stable culitvars. It is a fact that hybrids do NOT come true from seeds. This is not my opinion, it's a known fact in the field of Horticulture. They may be hybridized to produce vines and blooms that look very similar from generation to generation, but they are not an exact vine of the parent vine and therefore capable of producing something a little (or a lot) different from seed.

Crosses vs. an actual hybrid (that consistently comes relatively true in characteristics by seed) ... many would dispute this issue about naming rights ... I think many NO ID vines come from natural crossing, not someone hand-pollinating them, which is discovered purely by accident during a grow-out. I do a lot of hand-pollinating, but most gardeners don't. I have tried to stabilized crosses, but from my experience, most are nearly impossible to stabilize. Which is why I agree that hybridized cultivars do not come true from seed. Anyone can name any I. nils and who is going to dispute it ... or really care?

I could name every single bloom with an unique name and claim the F1 vine from the seed of that bloom. But seriously, does it really mean anything? I don't think so. It's a new plant with probably a multitude of possibilities. Once that seed leaves your hands and goes into someone else's, it becomes their vine and future seeds. Whether they keep the name or not, it's their choice. There really isn't any disputing it because the vine is not a clone of the mother vine.

I think the name game is mainly just one of many ways to identify a vine that you grew and got seeds from. But I do NOT go exclusively by names anymore. I can't tell you how many times I got named seeds and they didn't produce a vine and/or blooms anything like the characteristics of the named cultivar. Rightly so, as they are not clones. To me, the name game is just a courtesy among gardeners for sharing or doing trades. Sellers appear to have a different story. Perhaps they try to come up with catchy names to promote and sell their plants and/or seeds? But what happens when the seeds don't produce a vine similar to the photos? Dissatisfied or angry customers? You bet! That's why I prefer trading over buying or selling seeds! I always tell folks who I share or trade with, that the seeds may not come true to the parent vine. They could produce something that looks very similar or something totally different. :-)

So to me naming a vine can be any name you want it to be, but it probably won't stick, IMHO, unless those who you are sharing the seeds with keep the name when they grow them out as a courtesy to and respect for you.

I just don't put a lot of stock into a crossed or hybrid "name". That is just my humble opinion. :-)

This message was edited Aug 1, 2011 2:48 PM

Mesilla Park, NM

On another note, I just wanted to say the one in the photo you posted in the first post is just beautiful and unique, it seems like every year they keep on getting better and better.

I know that in Japan they do use the number system, but, I don't know one number from the other, on the other hand, I remember the names a whole lot better. If it gets too confusing with the numbers, I think that soon those numbers won't mean a thing to anyone, unless they have a photographic memory. So, I guess, I prefer a name to associate a flower with, just for identification purposes if nothing else. What a confusing issue this has been for years and will continue to be in the future.

szarvas, Hungary

Becky ... another enigma !!!

Natural crossing = open pollination (both keywords or insurance of seeds sellers) and the answer to the question of Joseph when he visited the field of MG in Kyushu: there is no pollonisation between cultivars the collection.

yet they are cheek to cheek!

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Clatskanie, OR(Zone 8a)

Becky..I agree with you completely, but I don't accept that it is futile, or a lost cause.
It has been done with mgs, and it will be done again. The big problem here is that we are dealing with annuals. This really tightens the rules for naming. Because they have to come true from seed, withing acceptable perameters, per the rules. Named cultivars in seed catalogs today, in seed catalogs for years, as you say are not clones, and therefore not genetically identical to the parent. The naming rules only require that they look enough alike, that they are an identifiable cultivar. They must fit the definition of cultivar, as per the naming rules. To reach that point takes an enormous number of seeds, lots of patience and work. Most of the people here, once they have a hundred seeds or so, share them instead of hoarding them for a massive grow out, like is done commercially.

For instance, take that dazzling Speckled Kikyo of Helenah. If the rest of us are ever to get seeds that look just like that and uniform, Helenah needs to hoard those seeds and continue proving them out to be the same. If they were mine, and I was growing them out, I would plant them all in a long row. And anything that doesnt conform to the picture, would get snipped off at the roots soon. Other people would do it differently. There are other shortcuts too, but they add great expense to the project, that would probably never be recovered on morningglories.

If you follow the rules, naming annuals, takes forever, and is imensely expensive, in terms of time and dollars invested.

The important thing here, I think, is that the provenance of the seeds is clear to the recipient. I hope the day comes when we can buy seeds of a dream cross, and trust the provenance to be true. Most of us here have gotten taken somewhere along the line, after we go to all the TOIL AND EXPENSE, growing something that is a 'NOT'.

(Becky) in Sebastian, FL(Zone 10a)

Dany - Is that a photo of your MG grow area? Looks very efficient and orderly! Nice! Have you got a drip system running along each row? Gotta love your vision and ideas!

I do find it VERY hard to believe that the KU blooms don't cross since they have them growing so close in a row like yours. Do they bag or tie all the buds before they open to prevent crossing? It didn't appears so in any photos I've seen! That's probably why when I grow some of them out, I get some very unusual surprises! LOL! And that might also be the reason some of them are sterile. :-(

Frank - Karen2005 is the only person (that I know personally) who is trying to create, stabilize, and hybridize some vines. Her work is documented here on DG and on many other websites. I believe that she is indeed doing just that from all the photos & videos that I've seen and her posts and blog documentations. She has done a great job of documenting everything she is doing to try to stabilize some of those lovely vines and blooms! Plenty of proof from what I can tell. I've not seen anything from anyone else doing that. Tony is doing an F1 cross grow-out, but he's got many more grow-outs to stabilize any of his crosses. X is doing her crosses, too! I'm getting ready to do my F3 grow-outs on the Blue Speckles, but I can tell you right now that I will be very surprised if I can stabilize them. The genes in that particular vine are producing some very interesting vines and blooms, but not close to stable yet.

To me it would not be ethical for someone to get hybridized or nearly stable seeds from Karen (directly or indirectly) and then try to name them and claim them as their own. Karen has indeed done all the work. But as we all know ... we don't live in a perfect world! Karen is smart and does have the public documentation in several places and photos to back up her claims for any hybrids she is working to stabilize. Because I am aware of that fact, I wouldn't deal with anyone I felt trying to benefit from her hard work by claiming her hybrids. I would have no respect for someone that would be that dishonest! So even though there is no MG Society, we all know right from wrong and can form our own opinions about such a situation. Karen is also smart and not releasing every single detail about her hybrids. So only she would know how to make a particular hybrid so that someone else couldn't just try to claim them without any validity or facts to back up their claims. I think most everyone on this forum and many regular lurkers have read enough through posts and seen enough photos here that they can make an educated opinion about such a situation.

But it still comes back to ... can these be stabilized enough to actually put a name and a hybridizer's name to a particular I. nil or I. purpurea cultivar? Time will tell. I still get weird vines and blooms from some of the Japanese seeds packets. Sazanami is one that can produce a variety of vines and blooms. I think calling the differences a "sport" or "variation" would just add to the confusion. They are obviously different enough from Sazanami that they shouldn't be named as such. That's my personal opinion. I know others may have a different opinion ...

This message was edited Aug 2, 2011 4:41 PM

Clatskanie, OR(Zone 8a)

I am glad to hear that about Karen. Wish she still hung out with us. The most spellbinding of the newest crosses our people here are making are those show stopping
speckled ones. Droollllllllllllllllllllll. I guess I will just have to crank up my plant rack, and do what you are doing inside. I give up on weather changes. This is the 3d or 4th summer in a row with cold nights. Here it is August, and I am still having the heat on in the evening. In the old days, we would shut down the wood stove in may, just to make more room in the house, and would even take the woodstove out to the wood shed til sept.

I guess in the final analysis, I am going to have to run a wire from the power box, through the attic, and down in a wall, just for the morning glory fun. Frank

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