The saga of Franke and Barney . . .

glaciers_end(8WA)September 25, 2011

. . . the infamous x bormuelleriana brothers. I'd like to open this thread as a discussion on how cultivars are named. I find the story behind the plant to be sometimes just as interesting as the plant, itself.

Abies x bornmuelleriana 'Barney' was found by Ken Franke, a Christmas tree grower from New York. Ken procured the original tree from someone named 'Barney.' Later, Ken Franke shared wood with Talon Buchholz who brought the tree into production under the name 'Barney.' Ken didn't care for this and said that the tree should have been named 'Franke' and to this day is often seen and sold under that name. Despite the confusion, 'Barney' and 'Franke' are one in the same.

While touring Oregon Garden last summer, I found it amusing to see both trees growing within a few meters of each other in the same part of the garden. I'm not sure what statement Oregon Garden is trying to make here.

Here's my question. Shouldn't the desires of the original finder overide that of the original vendor?

Here's one of the trees from Oregon Garden:

and a few new grafts that I'm selling:


Please note that I've just changed my GardenWeb ID to something that makes a little more sense. "Crypper" doesn't hold the same meaning to me that it did several years ago.

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Heya Dave,

A good bit of information. I have both plants in my gardens and they do look identical, despite their youth. For my own part, I think I may keep them labeled as bought with the understanding they are the same plant - if nothing else to serve as a reminder to the story.

To your question though, there is no question in my mind that the seller should keep the same name as originally given. I'm also in favor of making a single adjustment if the originally plant finder wanted something listed a certain way: 'Kohout's Icebreaker' for example instead of just 'Icebreaker'. I think as long as this isn't made into a habit and happens only once in a while, I think the finder of the plant has that right.

On two other notes, are you grafting now?? Someday, soon perhaps, I need to visit and maybe we can exchange a few plants. For sure, if you're interested, I'd like to swap an 'Anita's Golden Cloak' for one of my new golden seedlings 'Catharine's Golden Heart'. I'd keep yours in my garden strictly as a specimen plant with no grafting done as long as you'd honor the same.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 3:09PM
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Hi Will,

as far as grafting and propagation go, let's just say I just placed an order for my first knives and hope to spend a couple days at Coenosium with Bob this winter.

I almost went to help him out last year, but it didn't work out. In the meantime, my knives will be in soon and I've been wathching the video (really cool stuff). When I get the knives, I know of a lot of Doug-firs that I can practice on before I try out real scions. LOL

You're definitely invited over to visit and swap wood and yes, I wouldn't think of propagating and selling any of your unique stuff without permission.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 3:30PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Dave, many thanks for this valuable info!
This is just another example how conifer cultivar names confusions will arise.
The cause here is that Ken Franke had to make clear to Talon Buchholz that the one and only cultivar name for thos conifer is 'Frank' and that another cultivar name is out of the quiestion.
Unfortunately he didn't...

Another cultivar name confusion is Pinus strobus 'Tiny Kurls' and 'Vercurve'.
It was Greg Williams who selected 3 seedlings which arose from a cross between Pinus strobus 'Torulosa' and a Pinus strobus witches' broom.
Greg gave these the following temporary cultivar names:
'Curly Upright'
'Curly Globe 2'
'Curly 3'
Greg spread some scionswood of the 'Curly Globe 2' to Bob Fincham and Talon Buchholz and either gave their own cultivar name to the same plant.
Bob named it 'Tiny Kurls' and Talon named it 'Vercurve'.
2 cultivar names for the same plant and another confusion was borne, Greg was the cause of this confusion because he wasn't straight to gave it a proper cultivar name before spreading it...

Recently at this forum new info made it clear that also Larry Stanley made the same mistake with his' Picea pungens 'The Blues'.
He spread scions among other nurserymen who also named it either their own way in 'Slenderiana' and 'Blue Falls'.

This are only 3 out of many other confusions, all because of the same reason...

    Bookmark   September 25, 2011 at 5:20PM
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Just to clarify:

Greg is very generous with his new discoveries and when he shares them, he uses either a descriptive name or a name simply to designate one plant/seedling from another. Sometimes that name stays and sometimes it is not a suitable name for whatever reason. When a nurseryman, such as myself or Talon, sees merit in one of the plants shared by Greg, the ethical thing to do is to verify a cultivar name assignment/verification with Greg. I did that with Greg for Picea abies 'Vermont Gold', Pinus strobus 'Tiny Kurls', Pinus strobus 'Stowe Pillar', and Pinus strobus 'Mini Twists'. Greg agreed to those names before I ever started selling any of those four plants. Any other names on these plants were just arbitrarily given without Greg's approval. I know Greg gets as upset as anybody over multiple names on a plant.

Greg should either have given cultivar names to the plants before giving them away or should only share them with people he can trust not to put names onto his plants without his permission. If anything, Greg is generous and trusting to a fault and sometimes is taken advantage of. However, that only happens once.

Nobody has the ethical right to name someone else's plant without their permission. However, the first person to publish a plant's name does own that name and if it is someone else's plant then they are "out of luck" and the conifer world has another little dose of confusion.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 1:00AM
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I would have to completely agree. I am not innocent of causing confusion. Not intentionaly, but it happens. You find a plant, and are not sure of its growing characteristics, so you let a friend take a plant so you have a back up incase some catastrophe happens. You never had a name because you really need to see the form but tell the friend a tenative name just to stay organized. You finally give the plant a deserving name, but your friend keeps tentative name as the culivar name when he sells (most likely trades) the first time. Its that 3rd guy who screws the whole thing up. But I can see how it easily happens.

Kohout should be allowed to make this small change. Its not a big change. But don't be surprised when it comes to market with just 'Icebreaker' on the label. I have already talked to other nurserymen who know of the change but won't make it because the plant will sell better without Kohout attached to it. I will be complying with Kohout's request and adding his name. Its not. A lot to ask.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 1:13AM
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bluespruce53(Dorset UK)

I have 'Barney' down as norndmanniana spp. Equ-trogani ...can anyone enlighten as to the correct species nomenclature please ?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 12:43PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Stephen, it's Abies nordmanniana subsp. equi-trojani 'Franke'

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 5:00PM
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bluespruce53(Dorset UK)

Cheers Edwin! :o)

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 6:14PM
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ok, now you guys are blowing my mind.

Is Abies x bornmuelleriana incorrect or simply a synonym for Abies nordmanniana ssp. equi-trojani?

. . . aaaand Edwin, are you implying that 'Franke' is the cultivar-name we should use?


    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 7:40PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Dave, in the past it was Abies bornmuelleriana (x) because they thought it was a cross between Abies cepahalonica and Abies nordmanniana.
Later on the specialists found out that it was a subspecies of Abies nordmanniana and they renamed it into Abies nordmanniana subsp. equi-trojani.

'Franke' is the cultivar name we have to use because this name was given by the original finder.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 2:05AM
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Later on the specialists found out that it was a subspecies of Abies nordmanniana and they renamed it into Abies nordmanniana subsp. equi-trojani.

As molecular analysis showed, Abies equitrojani is not part of the alba-nordmanniana group, but belongs to the cephalonica group from Eastern Greece.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 1:18PM
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so where do we now stand?

1. Abies x bornmuelleriana isn't correct because it was thought that Abies cephalonica wasn't part of the DNA.

2. Abies nordmanniana ssp. Equi-trojani isn't correct because of molecular analysis shows no relation to Abies alba or nordmanniana.

3. Do we assume Abies equi-trojani is the correct name?

Is it safe to change all of our labels yet?

Following is a rehash by some of the usual suspects regarding the taxonomy of Mediterranean Firs. This was done almost 5 years ago. Clearly we haven't progressed terribly far. Therefor, I'm sticking with Pineresin's contention that:

Abies nordmanniana var. bornmuelleriana =
Abies nordmanniana var. equi-trojani

and my labels will read:
Abies nordmanniana var. bornmuelleriana 'Franke' (unless someone can present a stronger argument otherwise).

Here is a link that might be useful: a discussion of Mediterranean firs

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 4:26PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Wikipedia shows us that Abies nordmanniana subsp. equi-trojani is the right name for this plant...
I'll stick with Abies nordmanniana subsp. equi-trojani 'Franke'.

Here is a link that might be useful: Abies nordmanniana subsp. equi-trojani

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 5:07PM
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I found the last paragraph had a good answer:

There are two subspecies (treated as distinct species by some botanists), intergrading where they meet in northern Turkey at about 36�E longitude:

-- Caucasian Fir Abies nordmanniana subsp. nordmanniana. Native to the Caucasus mountains and northeastern Turkey west to about 36�E. Shoots often pubescent (hairy).

-- Turkish Fir Abies nordmanniana subsp. equi-trojani (syn. A. bornmuelleriana, A. equi-trojani). Native to northwestern Turkey from Mount Ida eastwards to about 36�E. Shoots usually glabrous (hairless).

Since Abies bornmuelleriana (without the "x") is synonymous, would it be easier to go with Abies bornuelleriana 'Franke,' because it's the closest to what we've seen in the trade, anyway?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 6:23PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

It's not a matter here of an "easier thing", Abies bornmuelleriana is just a SYNONYM for Abies nordmanniana subsp. equi-trojani.
Other people decided this so we have to deal with this name...
Again, the name we've to use is Abies nordmanniana subsp. equi-trojani 'Franke'.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 2:50AM
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I am afraid to say that the wiki article is not serious. There is no reference to scientific material. And the three populations of Abies nordmanniana, bornmuelleriana and equitrojani cannot be "intergrading where they meet", for they have three geographically separate ranges.

One should begin to read Peter Schütt, Tannenarten Europas und Kleinasiens.

And further Scaltsoyiannes and al., Allozyme differentiation in the Mediterranean firs (Abies, Pinaceae). A first comparative study with phylogenetic implications.

Conclusion : Abies equitrojani and Abies bornmuelleriana cannot be synonyms. I can only repeat that they belong to two different groups. What was said already in 2007 (follow the link given above).

And everybody is free to make of these two taxa valid species or subspecies or variety, but in that case bornmuelleriana is a variety of nordmanniana and equitrojani is a variety of cephalonica.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 4:18PM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

Now I hope that our species friends Clement and Resin will chime in...

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 2:31AM
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coniferjoy(z7 The Netherlands)

It's always the same when you're waiting for the cavalry ;0)

Nothotsuga, can you show us a link about the story of bornmuelleriana is a variety of nordmanniana and equi-trojani is a variety of cephalonica?
This info is all new to me.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 2:55AM
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It's here (abstract only, unless you're very rich or have access to a good botanical library).

I don't agree with all the conclusions; in particular, their sampling in the northern and central Balkans (Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, etc) is woefully inadequate (i.e., not at all!), leading to a very incomplete study of A. borisii-regis, which I consider is better treated as a separate ancestral species, not a hybrid.

Another paper to see here (pdf paper). Only just found it, so not read it yet.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 6:37AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Dave, care to trade one of yours for a new graft?

Please send me an email as I cannot from here to you.

Thank you,


    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 7:06AM
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check your email, Dax. I'm always interested in anything new and strange. Unfortunately, I only have room for miniatures any more.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 8:03AM
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This one's at risk of dropping off the bottom soon, so here it goes to the top again.

I'm adding one more little bit of research that seems to support that this species is probably more appropriately named Abies nordmanniana subsp. equi-trojani. 'Franke' hasn't yet been placed in the ACS database, but this is where I'm getting ready to put him.

If you haven't bookmarked yet, here's your chance. It's a gold mine of conifer science.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Gymnosperm Database

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 12:10PM
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I think Abies bornmulleriana and Abies equi-trojani are not a synonym.In the new book "Conifers around the World" they are listed 2 different species, It's the same in "Conifers" by K. Rushforth.
I have the 2 in my arboretum, and they look different.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 2:34AM
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just keeping this thread bouncing around. Here is a paper done by some Turkish scholars supporting the argument that Abies bornülleriana should be a separate species.

agree? disagree?

Here is a link that might be useful: more study of Turkish firs

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 8:43PM
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Generally I think about cultivar names, that the author (breeder) must give a name to his plant before giving it to commerce. This is an important thing, not a joke. This is the responsibility of the breeder.

I agree with Edwin, renaming is not only a possibility to confusions, but on the other hand a way to wash clear a stolen cultivar (for a while). Thats why Ken Franke made a failure.

I also agree with Bob with Greg Williams. Last year I sent a list to Greg. All available or ever mentioned Greg's conifers. As I got his answer, it was clear for me, that he never named his plants. (His answers are built into the Conifer Treasury 5.0) You know Abies nordmanniana KBNG, KBNG WB, Hunnewell, Broom H etc with endless name versions. Greg should have give a final name, but he didnt. By this way anyone, who visited Greg, gave to his plants any names what they wanted. The result is an endless confusion. I spent 3 years with solving of the confusions.
The problem is, that we have knowledge about 100 conifers of Greg. But he has some hundreds more at home, which he collected in the decades. These must be descripted and named anyhow, or they will be lost.

I was speaking about this problem with Dax a year ago. He or someone could go there to make a complete documentation with photos, names and descriptions. Unless we loose all treasures of Greg. He collected more hundreds of kinds, which are still sleeping in his garden...


    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 11:58AM
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