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Journal American Rhododendron Society

Current Editor:
Dr. Glen Jamieson ars.editor@gmail.com


Volume 31, Number 3
Summer 1977

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Too Many Registrations?

        In a letter to the Registrar Ed Parker, Velma Haag, Brevard, NC, wrote: "At the 1974 Breeders Roundtable in Pittsburg there was considerable discussion on limiting plant registrations. We all agreed that there were too many being registered. Today's ARS (Fall 1976) Bulletin certainly points this up.
        "I have a suggestion which I would like you to consider proposing to the board. This is: Any person or nursery may register only one plant per bulletin or a total of no more than four per year. This should take care of the most extensive breeding program and will require the originator or introducer to be a more critical judge. At least the time element will be a limiting factor."

Dear Mrs. Haag:

        Thank you for your letter. I welcome it as it gives me the impetus to set down my thoughts concerning registration - something that the Editor of the Quarterly has urged me to do for some time.
        The International Code of Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants - 1969 (which you can obtain from The American Horticultural Society, Mount Vernon, VA. 22121 for $ 1.50), regulates our naming and registration. The Code makes available a precise, stable, and internationally accepted system for naming and name registration of cultivated plants. This is of the greatest importance for nomenclatural stability. The Registrars must endeavor to get raisers, introducers, and others concerned with the introduction of plants to submit all new names prior to the distribution of the plants and to use only names which conform to the Code.
        Acceptance of a name for registration does not necessarily imply judgment on the distinctiveness of the cultivar from others or on its horticultural merit; but the Code also stresses the importance and desirability of a testing program for distinctiveness of the cultivars before registration. It is only with the advent of such a program could the ARS possibly restrict registration. However, the problems associated with nationwide testing of all new rhododendrons and azaleas are so great as to make one ask: "Is it worth it?" I am afraid the ultimate decision of just which of the 100 or so rhododendrons registered each year will be accepted as widely grown garden plants must rest with you as a nurseryman and with your customers. It is important that you note that not all of the registration descriptions that are in each Quarterly are for new plants - many of them have been around for a number of years.
        I realize that for you to decide which plants to grow is difficult. We try to provide you with as complete a registration description as is feasible but you must visit other local growers' and hybridizers' gardens and attend shows, chapter meetings, and annual ARS meetings, if possible. A great aid would be for ARS members who see a number of new plants each spring to write short personal evaluations for publication in the Quarterly. The Bulletin of the American Iris Society frequently carries such articles, which, I think, aid iris growers to select among the myriad of new irises introduced yearly.
        I feel that the Sathers' registrations of Bill Whitney's plants represent but a relatively small number of the fine garden hybrids he produced over almost 40 years. I have visited the Whitney Garden several times and always come away overwhelmed. I urge you to read about Whitney in George Sather's article in the last Bulletin and in Pat Cummins's in the Oct. 1965 Bulletin (copy enclosed). One of the difficulties we have with a couple of Whitney's plants is that there are several clones with the same name about; i.e. 'Blue Pacific' and 'Virginia Richards'. This problem arises where the breeder names a new hybrid before all of the seedlings of the cross have bloomed and later finds something better. In the meantime some distribution of the first clone may have taken place. Of course, should this happen the breeder should ideally register a different name for the second clone.
        Halfdan Lem was notorious for his distribution of sister seedlings under group names. We are now suffering. For instance, I don't think anyone knows really how many different clones of his "Walloper' ('Anna' x 'Marinus Koster') group there are around. He not only sold seedlings from the crosses but also vegetatively reproduced selected sister seedlings and sold them - all with the same name. We thus have several 'Burgundys', 'Faburs', and 'Riplets' around.
        The monumental list of Joseph Gable plants put together by the Gable Study Group includes a number of names that have been registered for plants by other breeders; among them: 'Blackie', 'Brachdis', 'Flamingo', 'Red Head', 'Tinkerbell', 'Tom Thumb', 'Yellow Bells', 'Renaissance', 'Blue Jay', 'Keisrac', and 'Pioneer'.
        The Dexter names present their problems too: 'Agatha', 'Amethyst', 'Apple Blossom', 'Arlequin' ('Harlequin'), 'Champagne', 'Eminent', 'Honeydew', 'Irrestistible', 'Pink Delight', 'Ramona', 'Red Velvet', and 'Zanzibar', all have been registered for other plants.
        I am not saying that registration would have avoided all of these problems but, with the cooperation of the breeders and the Registrar, most of them could have been avoided.
        You and I, given the same group of hybrid seedlings, most certainly would not wish to name and register the same selections. The same plants, of course, would not grow equally well in North Carolina and Oregon and we have our personal likes and dislikes. The ARS has recently revised its system of rating hybrids wherein they will be rated geographically. This should aid us in making selections for our areas.
        I am afraid that I have not offered you much solace but we just cannot restrict registrations. It would just lead to further name duplications and thus confusion. And this we cannot tolerate.

Best wishes,
Edwin K. Parker
Registrar


Volume 31, Number 3
Summer 1977

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