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Journal American Rhododendron Society

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


Volume 3, Number 3
July 1949

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Preliminary Code of Nomenclature
Prepared by the Committee on Nomenclature and Registration of the American Rhododendron Society

A. Need for a Code

  1. At the present time there are two types of horticultural "varieties" of rhododendrons being sold in the United States, namely (a) clones (or clonal varieties) such as 'Pink Pearl', which has been propagated asexually by cuttings or grafts from the one original selected seedling, and (b) groups of seedlings of a particular cross between two species or between a species and a variety, such as 'Fabia', which includes all seedlings of the cross R. dichroanthum X R. griersonianum. In many catalogs and other publications, varieties are listed with no marks to distinguish one type of variety from the other.
  2. The present custom of using a "variety" name for a group of rhododendron seedlings including all the offspring of a particular cross, whether a primary cross between two species or a cross between a species and a hybrid, is confusing and should not be continued because there will be more or less variation in every such group of seedlings.
  3. American gardeners have come to think of their plants primarily in terms of kind and horticultural variety. For woody plants, variety means clone (or clonal variety) to most Americans.
  4. If a "variety" name is used to designate a group of seedlings and one of them wins an award, nurserymen may raise a large number of seedlings of the same cross and sell them under the description of the award plant using that variety name, but the seedlings may be quite different from those of the original cross because of the use of different parent plants, though they might be of the same species as the parents of the award plant.
  5. As a general rule, it would be more enlightening to the average reader to give the actual cross, rather than a fancy name which stands for the cross, since such a fancy name means little unless the reader knows the cross for which it stands.

B. Suggestions for Breeders

  1. The breeder should select those seedlings which are worthy and which are distinct enough to be readily distinguished, propagate them as clones, and name them as clones after adequate testing. This is the procedure in practically all other fields of horticulture.
  2. Those seedlings not quite good enough to be named should preferably not be distributed but if sold it should be simply as seedlings for mass planting. The inferior plants should be destroyed.
  3. Clones should be introduced under a clone name only, not with a second or group name attached. Thus we would have a variety 'Tangerine', not 'Fabia' var. 'Tangerine'. Descriptions published might read 'Tangerine' (R. dichroanthum X R. griersonianum). In cases where a group name is already well known, it might be used as follows: 'Tangerine', a clone selected from the 'Fabia' group.
  4. Any selection receiving a special award should be named as a clone and the award symbols used with the clone name and not with a group name if there is one.
  5. A new variety should be adequately described in some accepted publication, using the R. H. S. Color Chart in the preparation of the color description. The parentage should be given for the benefit of other breeders.
  6. No name which has been used for an azalea should be used for a rhododendron and vice versa.
  7. Names should be simple and descriptive or meaningful, in preference to the use of proper names. They should preferably be of one word and under no circumstances Latinized.
  8. The titles Mr., Mrs., Dr., Capt., etc. should be avoided. Certainly if there is a Mr. Brown then there should not be a Mrs. Brown Rhododendron.
  9. A variety should not be named after a living person without his or her consent.

C. Suggestions to Nurserymen

  1. Retail nursery catalogs which list any of the "group" varieties should carry a short statement telling how rhododendron varieties have been named. This committee should draw up such a statement and ask nurserymen to print it.
  2. All "group" varieties in a catalog should be so described or marked in unmistakable manner. All group names should be common names, not Latinized; thus the term Ghent hybrids to denote a race instead of R. gandavense.
  3. Clones (clonal varieties) might well me marked as such also, but any unmarked variety should be a clone.
  4. Foreign variety names should be used "as is" and not in translated form.

D. Suggestions to the American Rhododendron Society

  1. Some simple term should be adopted to designate the "group" varieties. Grex, polybrid, and heterogen have been used but are not yet familiar, to the public. The term "group" is proposed as it is easily understood and the abbreviation gr. is the same as for grex, the more technical botanical term used to indicate the same thing; thus we would have gr. Fabia.
  2. A master checklist should be compiled giving variety name, whether clone or group, parentage, color, season, plant type, hardiness, awards. This checklist should give the reference to the original description of the variety.
  3. Breeders should be asked to submit proposed names plus the necessary information which would be added to the list. If the name were one which had been used previously, the breeder should be requested to choose another name. A working arrangement should be established with the British, German, and other Rhododendron Societies in order to avoid duplication of names and to encourage the recording of new introductions.
  4. Where it is known that a variety is being listed or shown under two names, that fact should be published Indicating which name is correct.
  5. Where two or more individual varieties are being sold under one clonal name, they should be described in a publication and the correct type pointed out.
  6. The establishment of as complete an herbarium collection as possible (including clones as well as species) at some American botanical institution of good standing should be encouraged.
  7. Test gardens should be sponsored as a check on variety names as well as to determine hardiness and general excellence.
  8. System of awards should be worked out for use in this country. This should be distinct from the English system in order to avoid confusion.

Volume 3, Number 3
July 1949

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