Friday, 21 December 2007

Naming new cultivars

For those not familiar, the naming of a cultivar should conform to the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (the ICNCP, commonly known as the "Cultivated Plant Code"). For this, it must be distinct from other cultivars and it must be possible to propagate it reliably, in the manner prescribed for that particular cultivar. With Canna cultivars that is normally by asexual means, as very few Canna cultivars grow true-to-type. The Tropical Series are the only exception to that general statement.

International Cultivar Registration Authorities (ICRAs) are appointed by the ISHS (International Society for Horticultural Science) Commission for Nomenclature and Cultivar Registration. In the 50 years that the ICRA system has been established it has contributed significantly to the stability of cultivated plant nomenclature.

The scheme operates under the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP) and its mission is to prevent duplicated uses of cultivar and Group epithets within a defined denomination class (usually a genus), as well as ensuring that names are in all other respects in accord with the latest edition of the ICNCP.

Scope of authority
The system is both voluntary, and non-statutory and it does not confer any legal protection over the name or the plant. Such protection has to be sought through statutory schemes such as Plant Breeders Rights or Plant Patents, which differ between counties. The ICRA system is in effect the horticultural worlds attempt at self-policing of nomenclature and is truly international in its scope. ICRAs are not responsible for assessing the distinctiveness of the plant in question.

How it operates
The ICRA system depends upon the co-operation of all involved with the creation and marketing of new plants. Normally, all that is required is the submission of the plant name and any other required data to the ICRA, and in most cases there is no direct cost to the applicant. Although an ICRA is entitled to charge a small fee to cover their costs, most provide this indispensable service without charge.

The ICRA will:

  • validate that in all other respects it is in accord with the ICNCP,

  • initally, notify the registrant of the success, or not, of the application.
Applicants must understand that registration will be refused if the name has been used before and should always await the ICRAs decision before implementing any marketing for the plant, the ICRA are not responsible for any losses incurred in this respect.

Formally establishing names
Each ICRA is also charged with the responsibility of ensuring that new names are formally established (i.e. published in hard copy, with a description in a dated publication). Establishment in this context is an important concept since it is only after such publication that the name has precedence for its use for a particular plant.

Whilst the ICRA will ensure through its own publications that names are established, it is recommended that registrants should not necessarily rely on this and should also try to ensure that their new names are securely established as soon after registration as possible.

It is not sufficient to release details onto the Internet, as that is not considered to be hard copy.

The Canna ICRA

The ICRA for Canna are the Royal Dutch Bulbgrowers Association, known worldwide as the KAVB. The cultivar naming service is free of charge, and below are links to enable anybody interested in naming a new cultivar to do so.

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