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Flowering Shrubs in Florida: Ixora 'Frankie' and Ixora 'Nora Grant'

from Plants Daily Post

Ixora 'Frankie Hipp'9/3/2008 Flowering Shrubs in Florida

Frankie and Nora Ixora: exploring the patentability of a mutation

A number of Ixora varieties have been tried in Florida landscaping with mixed results. One of the most successful to date has been 'Nora Grant,' a non-patented pink flowering variety of Ixora coccinea with lush glossy green foliage and a will to survive. The primary complaint against Nora is a late winter stage when the leaves can become papery and copper or reddish. It is only a phase though, and particularly for commercial and low maintenance area purposes, the number of months the shrub blooms and thrives under extreme conditions has won it widespread favor in the landscape business.

One September 1989 in Homestead, Florida, a white-flowered branch, constituting a spontaneous mutation of 'Nora Grant,' was spotted by Fabia C. Pitman. After a period of vegetative propagation from leaf cuttings and necessary trials, the cultivar Ixora 'Frankie Hipp' was awarded United States Patent PP09200. 'Frankie Hipp' and 'Nora Grant'Frankie is said to vary from Nora by slower rate of growth, larger flower heads and creamy white flower color. Nonetheless, Frankie tends to be more commonly referred to around town as "white 'Nora Grant.'" Given the time in a mass planting or hedge, patented Frankie bursts forth with new shoots of non-patented Nora.

Therein exists the frontier potential for new and expensive arenas of litigation over plant patent property rights. If 'Nora Grant' became patented, would 'Frankie Hipp' owe a royalty? Considering the number of lawyers these days, some definitive answers should be demanded, about mutation and who really owns what in the natural world.

The genus Ixora is a member of the Rubiaceae, a family of mostly trees and shrubs, including the delectable Coffea arabica bush. Ixora coccinea grows in the wild along the west coast of India and has been cultivated in India since ancient times. The flowers of Ixora coccinea contain active chemicals which have been studied at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal Pin 576119, Karnataka, India, for wound healing properties and anti-tumor activity.

Daily Post text and photos by Leigh Fulghum


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