Jay W. Murray, Registrar of Plant Names
Colts Neck, New Jersey
Probably the most widely-grown Dexter hybrid is an elepidote rhododendron named 'Scintillation' by Paul Vossberg in 1957. The history of this plant is recounted in
Hybrids and Hybridizers
(1) by Dr. John C. Wister who noted that 'Scintillation' is "almost certainly the finest and best known of all Dexter varieties."
The New York Chapter registered the name 'Scintillation' in 1973, the same year the plant received the ARS Award of Excellence (2). It is one of only seven plants to receive the ARS Superior Plant Award during the past 25 years (3).
A recent article by Krebs (4) disclosed that there are now three plants in the trade being called 'Scintillation': the original clone, one from Gem Gardens, and one from the University of Rhode Island. This is contrary to one of the basic edicts of the Cultivated Code (1980) which states, "Not more than one cultivar may have the same name within the same cultivar class."
Based on Krebs' research, the so-called "variants" of 'Scintillation' were not found to be different from one another, but several who have seen the plants say that although the flowers are indistinguishable among them, there are differences in the leaves and time of bloom. Presently it is impossible to know whether the "different" clones are sports of 'Scintillation'. The Cultivated Code covers this contingency with the following statement: "A new cultivar which originated by selection or by bud-mutation from another cultivar, and which still retains a strong resemblance to it, should, when appropriate, but not in any way that could cause confusion, be named to indicate the relationship."
My objective as registrar of plant names is to prevent corruption of the name 'Scintillation'. It belongs to the SPA (NE) clone, and no other. Clones from other sources should be given different names which should, of course, be registered. Appropriate names might be: 'Scintillation Rhode Island' and 'Scintillation Gem'.
Those who have purchased 'Scintillation' recently, or plan to purchase it in the future, should try to determine whether it is the legitimately named clone or one of the others, and mark your name tags accordingly.
1. Livingston, P.A. and F.H. West. Hybrids and hybridizers. Newtown Square, PA: Harrowood Books; 1978.
2. ARS Plant Awards 1973. Quarterly Bulletin Amer. Rhod. Soc. 27:244; 1973.
3. ARS Plant Awards 1991. J. Amer. Rhod. Soc.46:40; 1992.
4. Krebs, S.L Enzyme fingerprinting of rhododendron cultivars. J. Amer. Rhod. Soc.49:210-215; 1995.