En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Sunday - August 01, 2010

From: Waco, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Registered/patented pecan by Foster W. Fort
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello, we own a historic house museum once owned by the Fort family of Waco, and have learned that Foster W. Fort developed a type of pecan tree and had an orchard somewhere here around Waco (possibly in Downsville), and that these pecans are/were grown no where else. That is all the information from the family history that we can find. I am guessing he developed the tree/hybrid? around 1890-1920. He patented a nut cracker around 1907-1914. Do you know how we can find out if this species was registered/patented? I am currently researching where the original Fort family land was located outside of Waco, and hoping to find some trees. I just have no idea of where to start looking for registered(?) breeds of pecans. Thank you.

ANSWER:

After a bit of research, I learned that prior to the Plant Patent Act of 1930 it was not possible to patent a plant variety.  This act, under 35 U.S.C. § 161, reads: “Whoever invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.” Then, in 1970 the Plant Variety Protection Certificate (rather than a patent) was created for sexually produced plants.  The code (7 U.S.C. § 2402(a) reads: “[t]he breeder of any sexually reproduced or tuber propagated plant variety (other than fungi or bacteria) who has so reproduced the variety … shall be entitled to plant variety protection for the variety, subject to the conditions and requirements of this chapter, if the variety is” new, distinct, uniform, and stable.  You can read more about the Plant Variety Protection:  An Alternative to Patents.

What this means for you is that Foster W. Fort could not have had a patent on his particular type of pecan tree in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

You might try contacting pecan growers organizations to see if they have any knowledge of this particular pecan variety.  Here are a few possibilities for such contact: Texas Pecan Growers Association, National Pecan Shellers Association (NPSA), Pecan Kernel from Texas Cooperative Extension/Texas A&M University System.  The Handbook of Texas Online has an article about the pecan industry in Texas with a bibliography that might be helpful to you.

Finally, your best bet might be to get in contact with L. J. Grauke at the Pecan Breeding & Genetics, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, 10200 FM 50, Somerville, TX 77879 who have online the Pecan Cultivar Index.  You can find his contact information (telephone number and e-mail address) there.

 

More Trees Questions

Live Oak Leaf Drop in North Carolina
April 27, 2011 - We planted a 15 foot, approx. 3" caliber live oak tree last summer and it seemed very healthy throughout our unusually cold winter in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. (Winston-Salem). Now it's ...
view the full question and answer

Is Esperanza a deciduous or an evergreen plant?
March 08, 2009 - I've read that Esperanza/Tecoma Stans is an evergreen. I planted one last year that seemed very healthy, but it dropped its leaves in late fall and looks (at least) dormant now. Will it come back o...
view the full question and answer

Dog-safe Privacy Screen for Ocala, FL
June 25, 2015 - Am desperately searching for fast growing privacy that would be non toxic to dogs in Ocala, Florida (zone 9 I think). Wanted Leland cypress but due to toxicity it won't work.
view the full question and answer

Mystery tree with yellow fruit in MN
November 12, 2012 - There is a tree at my workplace, about 8' tall, with small, pea-sized yellow berries right now (Oct. 2012). The berries are attractive to Cedar Waxwings, and the tree has small leaves that are simple...
view the full question and answer

Identification of spiky red berry in Connecticut
September 25, 2011 - I found an odd berry outside of my school, none of the science teachers know what it is though. It kind of looks like a spiked cherry. It has spikes on the outside, a pit on the insde, and has pinkish...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center