A nasty spat has broken out between local horticulturists over President Jacob Zuma’s new flower. The plant experts were at each others’ throats this week, arguing about whether the SA Orchid Council, which named a Phalaenopsis orchid after the president last week, had illegally named the hybrid without obtaining permission from the copyright owner. Michael Tibbs, the man who raised the dust over the pretty flower, accused the council of breaking every rule in the book by not getting permission from the copyright owner and making a public announcement before registration was confirmed. Tibbs, a world-renowned orchid expert and grower, made these accusations at the yearly orchid conference and show in Rustenburg on Thursday. But show organiser Tinus Oberholzer rubbished Tibbs’ allegations the following day, saying they were unfounded and he was trying to undermine efforts to honour the president. Oberholzer said: “There is no copyright on the plants in question. We have the permission of the breeder to register the plants with the Royal Horticultural Society, which controls the registration of orchid names internationally.” But Tibbs told City Press that his friend, who lives in China, held the copyright of the orchid in question. He has demanded that the council issue a public apology for naming the flower before it was registered. Alan Pike, president of the council, admitted that they named the flower and announced it before it was registered. He said the council did not see anything wrong with this because “we had a temporary registration”. According to Pike, the official registration took place a few days ago. However, a registration certificate in the possession of City Press shows that the orchid was registered as Jacob Zuma only on Thursday.