Registering a name
New cultivar names can be registered with the appropriate International Cultivar Registration Authority (ICRA). A list of ICRAs and the plant groups for which they are responsible can be found here. ICRAs are appointed by the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) and may be an institution, plant society or individual with an interest in a particular genus or group of plants. Registration is very much an international effort and is supported at an international level.
The aim of registration is to prevent duplication of names within a denomination class, generally a genus, but sometimes within a family or other logical grouping. By preventing duplication, which can lead to confusion and misidentification, registration allows national and international regulations around phytosanitary issues, market protection and plant conservation to be formulated. As all information about a plant is linked to its name, registration is essential for the horticultural trade in obtaining market transparency. Registers are also extremely valuable in accumulating and disseminating reliable information concerming the origins, appearance and classification of cultivated plants.
Registration is a voluntary process and does not convey any legal status on the name. However, within some genera, whole international plant communities abide by the registration process and encourage participation in it. Registration is generally free, although some ICRAs may charge a small fee for administration purposes.
Information, other than the name, gathered during the registration process may include the name of the hybridiser, parentage of the plant and, most importantly, a description of the plant, especially in relation to the features that make it unique. Other information gathered is likely to be in respect of the name itself, so any trade designations or the granting of Plant Breeder’s Rights will be recorded.
Ideally registrations will be accompanied by photographs or a specimen of plant material, which can be pressed and designated a nomenclatural standard.
Registration ensures that names adhere to the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants and that they are validly published. This is achieved through printed publication of the names that have been registered. This may be in the form of a list in a Society’s journal, through the publication of an entire Register or through the regular publication of Supplements. Electronic publication (such as on a website) is not sufficient in itself to establish registered names.