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?


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
2 ratings

Friday - September 20, 2013

From: Ashland, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Plant Laws, Plant Lists
Title: Are wildflowers in Missouri patented?
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Are wildflowers in Missouri patented? If so where would I find a list of them?


The short answer is "No.  Wildflowers found in an uncultivated state (i.e., in the "wild") cannot be patented."

There are plants that can be patented but these plants must have been created or propagated by the intervention of humans.   Examples would be new varieties of cultivated plants, hybrids and transgenic plants.

Now, for the longer explanation:

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO):

"...any person who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent,” subject to the conditions and requirements of the law. The word “process” is defined by law as a process, act or method, and primarily includes industrial or technical processes. The term “machine” used in the statute needs no explanation. The term “manufacture” refers to articles that are made, and includes all manufactured articles. The term “composition of matter” relates to chemical compositions and may include mixtures of ingredients as well as new chemical compounds. These classes of subject matter taken together include practically everything that is made by man and the processes for making the products."

Further, the USPTO says:

"A plant patent is granted by the Government to an inventor (or the inventor's heirs or assigns) who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plant, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state."

BiOS says:

"In the United States, any living organism that is the product of human intervention (such as by some breeding process or laboratory-based alteration) qualifies as a composition of matter, which is patentable (Diamond v Chakrabarty (1980) 447 US 303). As a result, plants are patentable subject matter (35 U.S.C. 101). Furthermore, the United States has extended patent protection to plants produced by either sexual or asexual reproduction and to plant parts including seeds and tissue cultures (Ex parte Hibberd (1985) 227 USPQ 433)."

This would mean that new varieties of plants, transgenic plants, plant culture cells, plant breeding methodologies and other plant features that are developed through human intervention could potentially be patented.  Wildflowers would be excluded from patenting since they are not the result of human intervention.  Flowers growing in the wild, i.e., wildflowers, are growing in an uncultivated state.

If you are looking for a list of wildflowers that grow in Missouri, I can help you find a list of a majority of the wildflowers occurring in Missouri.   Visit our Native Plant Database and do a COMBINATION SEARCH choosing "Missouri" from the Select State or Province slot and "Herb" from the Habit (general appearance)  option.  This will give you a list of more than 1,100 native herbaceous wildflowers found in Missouri.  Our database contains most of the native plants found in Missouri that are also on the USDA Plants Database.  The USDA Plants Database includes introduced species along with the North American native species.  You can also use the "Advanced Search" mode on the USDA Plants Database to find plants in Missouri; however, it is a bit more complicated using this "Advanced Search" method to search just for native herbaceous wildflowers.


More Plant Lists Questions

Planting under Pine Trees in Pocatello ID
April 08, 2014 - Hi I was wondering if you could give me some ideas of what I could plant under and near some pine trees for my area. The trees are huge and so it is also constant shade where I want to plant. Thanks f...
view the full question and answer

Annual Native Plants for Interplanting in Iowa
January 20, 2015 - I'm looking for suggestions for annuals that will flower from seed or from spring plants. I want to use them to fill in the space around newly planted coneflowers and asters that I fear will look spa...
view the full question and answer

Water-wise plants for clay soil in southern California
September 26, 2013 - My yard is clay. I'm removing turf to put in water-wise plants and bushes. I need some low growing bushes and medium height bushes that will grow in clay and that will stay green in the summer. Hopef...
view the full question and answer

Most numerous trees in the Piedmont NC from Chapel Hill NC
September 20, 2012 - What's a list of the most populous trees in piedmont North Carolina?
view the full question and answer

New Jersey Native Plants for a Raised Bed
April 15, 2015 - I want to plant some native plants in a raised bed in New Jersey along side a stucco wall that gets direct sun and is very dry due to an overhang. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center