Wollemia nobilis confessions
At Frank's suggestion it's time to tell "the rest of the story" regarding the Wollemia nobilis.
Firstly my name is bruce and I'm an Aussie who lives in San Diego and has a couple of irrigation farms in Childers, Queensland.
Sorry this may be a bit long winded...........
I basically grow cycads and became interested in Wollemias when my good friend Ken Hill (Sydney Botanic Gardens & Wollemia describer) was staying with us in the 90's on the way to a cycad conference started talking about the Wollemia, when we were next in Sydney in his office he showed us plant parts, seed cones etc. In early 2000 we contacted Birkdale Nursery regarding possible importations into the USA and over the next 5 years never received a reply from them.
When the plants were released for sale in Australia in April, 2006 I seriously thought about importing some so on a trip over in August I applied to the Australian Dept of Hertitage and Environment for Export permits and was granted a six month permit to export Wollemia nobilis anywhere in the world.
I imported 50 plants to the USA in August and destributed them mainly to Botanical Gardens, a couple were taken to trade shows and a small number were sold.
A donation of four plants was made to Quail Gardens in Encinitas and that is when the fun started. unknown to us and EVERYONE ELSE in the horticulture industry was the fact that Birkdale Nursery had Trademarked the name "WOLLEMI" on 09/26/2006 in the USA and were threatening to sue both myself and Quail Gardens for displaying Wollemia nobilis as "wollemi pines" UNBELEIVEABLE that a published common name of a plant species could be trademarked but they did.
On October 9th, 2006 we received a 42 page lawsuit from Birkdale Nursery claiming $1,000,000 in damages for trademark violations and importing a trademarked commodity (even though I had export permits from the Australian Government) It now appears that the lawsuit was a scare tactic as it has yet to be filed in any US Court.
The National Geographic was extremely upset as that thought they had exclusive rights to the plant in the USA, Sure that have the rights to the plants from Birkdale but that does not stop anyone else from buying the plants from retail nurseries in Australia and importing them as I did.
The plants that National Geographic were exported to Canada in 4" pots, where they were held and then re-exported to the USA. I am still trying to fathom out why they did it this way and I haven't come up with any logical reason, it just means triple handling the plants.
The plants that NG is selling appear to be as a generalization pretty ordinary quality and size. the NG wesite stated that the plants would be 10" at the time of shipment and the WI wesite says they will be 10-14" in size. The smallest plant I have seen from them is 3" tall with most in the 5-6" size.
Evidently there have been numerous complaints to National Geographic, Wollemi International and some people have even lodged complats with the FTC regarding "false and misleading advertising" and Mail Fraud as the substandard plant size.
This is just the short version, I'm actually writing a manifesto with most of the details.
If anyone would like to email me my direct email is firstname.lastname@example.org
A lot more information with some pretty scathing complaints can be found on the "wollemia" Group on YAHOO
Thanks, Its been an interesting couple of months to say the least.