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
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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

Evergreen privacy hedge resistant to verticillium wilt
September 27, 2011 - I am looking for an evergreen, fast-growing privacy hedge (over 6') that is resistant to verticillium wilt and has low water requirements. I live in Monrovia, CA and have to replace hopseed bushes w...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade in Abilene TX
October 29, 2011 - I live in Abilene, Texas. I am trying to find the best plants to fill in an area on the North side of my home, which gets absolutely no sun. The area is sprinklered, and stays fairly moist. I really d...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screen Tree for Patio in NC
April 15, 2013 - What is a good tree to plant in front of a brick wall/fence to provide privacy and not compromise the structural integrity of the wall? The brick fence is my neighbors but I need privacy as they can s...
view the full question and answer

Privacy Screen for Heavy Clay and Full Sun in Louisiana
April 19, 2013 - What would be a fast-growing plant for privacy in Louisiana? I have heavy clay and full sun.
view the full question and answer

Hardy perennials for Chicago
June 15, 2007 - I have a duplex condo in Chicago. My basement or 1st floor is at sub-sidewalk level. This "patio" faces east and gets about 4 hours sun a day. It is about 8 feet high and covers an area 15x9. I'd l...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center