Notes On Plant Registration
Jay Whitney Murray
Colts Neck, New Jersey
Every hybridizer and grower of rhododendron and azalea seed is hoping to produce a better plant or flower. The object may be improved color, hardiness, plant habit, or a host of other desirable features. Once having achieved an improvement worthy of sharing, the grower really has a responsibility to register the plant. Then when it is made available to other admirers of the genus Rhododendron, it will be identified and its unique features will have been cataloged in an orderly fashion for future reference.
The primary duties of the Plant Registrar are to provide whatever assistance is required to complete application forms, to process applications through the International Registration Authority (IRA) in a timely fashion, to prepare descriptions for publication in the Journal, and to maintain records for reference purposes. In addition, the Registrar is expected to search out names of unregistered plants, so that different plants are not distributed under the same name.
It is planned to establish a computer data base containing registration information. All new registrations will become a part of this data base, and previous data will be added after the records become available to me. In the future it is hoped that hybridizers and students of rhododendron hybrids will be able to have computerized access to this data base and be able to specify a search for a certain attribute or combinations of attributes.
The application form is being revised, and instructions are being written to assist registrants. Meanwhile, either the current ARS form or the Royal Horticultural Society form may be used.
A few points of general information may be mentioned here. Registrations are governed by the regulations of the International Registration Authority. Plant names must conform to the rules given in the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants-1980. Only clones may be registered. Restrictions in the choice of names may seem arbitrary at times, but they are necessary to eliminate confusion. Names do not become official until after acceptance by the IRA and valid publication.
Flower colors should be described by reference to a standard color chart. The Royal Horticultural Society's Colour Chart (1966) is probably the best choice. However, other color descriptions may be used if referred to one of the standard color systems. Each chapter might consider having an RHS Chart for loan to its members. It has been out of print, but is again available.
Files of color slides and prints are maintained by both the ARS and the Royal Horticultural Society. At present the submission of color slides or prints is not a prerequisite for registration, but it can be very helpful and is encouraged. Slides serve as an excellent record. Those of acceptable quality will be considered for publication in the Journal as space permits.