What in the world is a TrademarkedTM or plant?


Well, succinctly put, it's a plant that's part of a marketing strategy meant to give the plant more perceived value because it has a trademarked name.  This does not make it a patented plant. That's a separate issue.  It's almost more like part of the Common Name and it's always a delightful sounding, come-hither-and-buy-me name!


The International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP) is the only true source for plant names and each plant only has one true name.  In 1952 when the first International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (known in the trade as the Code) was published it was intended to standardize the often confusing way in which plant Cultivars were named.  This code applies to everyone and everywhere around the world and is designed to avoid confusion on each plant's name.  We commonly call it a plant's Botanical Name and each plant has one and only one where they may have dozens of Common Names.  And everybody in the world has the right to use that Botanical Name in conjunction with that plant -- on websites, on tags, in marketing, wherever they need to.  This is not true with Trademarked or Registered Trademarked plants which have their own set of rules for usage of the name -- even in the way they are typed and presented. 

With the introduction of Trademarked plants, much confusion is arising and trademarked plants are often being called erroneously by their Trademarked Name as though it is their true Botanical Name.

For example: (and here to be truly precise, we've put Botanical names in Italics as they should be but we don't on the website because we think they're harder to read):  Leycestaria formosa 'Notbruce'  vs  Leycestaria formosa 'Notbruce'

The true Botanical name of GOLDEN LANTERNS Pheasant Berry, Himalayan Honeysuckle is Leycestaria formosa 'Notbruce'

No one in the trade calls this plant by that correct name.  It is almost always listed in the trade as Leycestaria formosa 'Golden Lanterns' which is just incorrect for a number of reasons.  It's not the Botanical Name of the plant - it's the oh so lovely, marketing name.  (And it works by the way -- do you want a plant named 'Notbruce' in your garden or a shimmering, glowing, delightful and whatever else plant the name GOLDEN LANTERNS brings to mind?)


Okay and if that's not confusing enough, some plants have more than one trademarked name and this is what will really burn you if I haven't managed to catch your attention yet:

Rosa 'Korlanum' is marketed under three different trademark names, each owned by a different company, SurreyTM, SommerwindTM, and Vente D'eteTM.  So you're out trying to buy the best, latest greatest Roses for you garden and if the plant's one and only true Botanical Name is not on the tag, you could come home with three identical plants (Rosa 'Korlanum') and think you had 3 different plants.  As comedian Austin Powers would say, "Oh yeh Baby..." now you see how this might apply to you!

Do not get me wrong!  I have no problem with folks in the trade making a living.  Very few people in this trade get rich (despite what plants cost) BUT my issue is with the progressive mix up that's occurring with plant names and we in the business should be the most concerned with this.  Trademark offices have no clue about correct Botanical Nomenclature, that's not their business, and when they issue a Trademark name that looks like a Botanical Name, it isn't their problem but it becomes ours!  

Keeping Botanical Names accurate is daunting enough, with frequent changes by Taxonomists striving for accuracy, without throwing in yet another name.  And Egads, the length of the names now...

1.  To use the names, we often can't even get the entire name on a tag or on a one line listing of the plant on the website -- so if your plant arrives with half the named chopped off, it will probably be the Trademarked part.  It's just too long to fit on a tag along with the other requirements we now have (by law) for tags including pot size, distributor, etc.

2.  And often the 'real' name is of a Patented Plant as well and thus the plant's name gets even longer when we have to follow it with the trademarked name, so people looking for that highly advertised trademarked name can recognize the plant:

          Physocarpus opulifolius 'Seward' PP14821 or SUMMER WINE Ninebark


We have gone out of our way on our website, in our database and on our tags, to present these trademarked plants in the correct manner (and continue to make corrections) but it's not easy and names are not short, especially when you hit a plant that's recently had a Genus change (which we try to ease folks into, showing old and new) or it is patented plus trademarked:

Leucothoe (Agarista) populifolia 'Taylor's Treasure'  LEPRECHAUNTM Dog Hobble

Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Miniblue' PP146748  PETIT BLEUTM  Bluebeard

These names will never fit on a tag!  Argh-h-h-h-h-h!

This is a tiny tip of this iceberg and in my mind no one writes more eloquently or in a more informed manner (and with, as needed, a sharp point to his pen) than Tony Avent of famed Plant Delights Nursery.  If you want the real, long version of this interesting story and how it may effect you and where plant nomenclature is headed, the following article on his website is well worth the read:

Name that Plant - The Misuse of Trademarks in Horticulture by Tony Avent


What can you do?  As a customer, at the very least, demand that the source you're buying from is using the one and only true Botanical Name along with any Trademarked names so you know for sure what you're getting.


And that's my two cents worth (with adjustments made for inflation of course!)

Debby Sheuchenko

Lazy S'S Farm Nursery