by Victoria Matthews, (former) International
Clematis come under the wing of
the RHS in its capacity as an International Registration
Authority and I act as Registrar. The function
of the Registrar is twofold. First, to complete
a record or "Register" of all cultivar
names so far published (The International Clematis
Register) and, second, to register new cultivar
The International Clematis Register
("Register") includes all cultivar names,
whether or not the plants are still in cultivation.
Any name which has been published must be included
in the Register because any printed matter is permanent
and a potential source of confusion with any other
use of the same name. The purposes of the Register
are to prevent the duplication, of names and to
make certain that names accord with the rules laid
out in the International Code of Nomenclature for
Cultivated Plants (1995).
The Register is more than just a
list of names. For new names, most of the information
collected on registration forms will be incorporated.
For older names, comparable information gleaned
from historical sources will be included, although
such information may be sparse.
It is worth noting that it is not
the function of the Registrar to judge the distinctness
of a cultivar, nor to judge whether one cultivar
is better than another. Also, the acceptance of
a cultivar name does not imply that the plant is
of horticultural merit.
The RHS published the first edition
of the International Clematis Register in early
2002 and annual supplements will now be issued.
As the Registration Authority for Clematis, the
RHS is required to publish information about new
cultivars, hence the necessity of supplements.
Registration of new cultivar names
There is a worldwide interest in
Clematis and new cultivars are being developed
in countries as far apart as Canada, Estonia, Holland,
Japan, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. It
is extremely important that new cultivars are registered,
otherwise there is a danger that two completely
different cultivars could be given the same name
with resulting confusion both for nurserymen and
the buying public. The rule (that no two taxa may
bear the same name) applies to both wild and cultivated
plants at all taxonomic levels.
If you have a new cultivar which
you consider to be distinct enough to deserve a
name, you should request a registration form from
the Registrar (it is available on this link from the RHS website), fill it in and return it. The Registrar
will check your chosen name and let you know whether
or not it is acceptable - if it is, it will be
registered. There is no charge for this service
It is important that the form be
completed as fully and accurately as possible,
because it will provide the basis of the entry
in the Register. Information given in the Register
can only be as good as that supplied by the registrant.
In addition to the completed registration form,
the Registrar would very much appreciate a photograph
of the plant and a pressed specimen: These will
be deposited in the RHS Herbarium at Wisley, where
they will form part of the "Standard Portfolio" for
It is important that registrants
do not leave registration until the last moment.
Nothing is more frustrating to a commercial firm
than to have their chosen name rejected after the
catalogues, publicity and labels have been printed.
A note on new cultivars. Before
rushing to register, make sure that you really
do have a cultivar! A single plant does not qualify:
a cultivar is a group of individual plants which
collectively is distinct from any other, which
is uniform in overall appearance and which remains
stable in its attributes. You should also convince
yourself that your cultivar really is an improvement
on others and worth naming.
A note on publication. Registration
alone does not offer protection for a cultivar
name. In the case of Clematis, the Register will
publish names submitted and accepted prior to its
publication date: subsequent names will be published
in the annual supplements. However, there is a
danger that your chosen name could be used by someone
else unless you ensure its prompt publication.
In order to be absolutely fixed a name has to be
published and accompanied by a description of at
least the obvious characteristics. This can be
done in a nursery catalogue or in printed matter
which is distributed to the general public or at
least to botanical or horticultural institutions
with libraries (Newspapers, non-technical magazines
and similar publications which are not designed
to last are not acceptable places for publication).
It is important to ensure that the publication
is dated, at least to the year. If someone else
publishes your chosen name (even if yours has been
registered) before you or the Registrar publish
it , you will have to think of an alternative name
and this can be a nuisance.
The International Code of Nomenclature
for Cultivated Plants (in its 8th edition at this point in time) sets out strict rules
for the formation of cultivar names and can currently be downloaded from the link above.
The first edition of the International Clematis Register is now out of print although it is available from the RHS website, along with its supplements.
The current International
Clematis Registrar is:
c/o RHS Gardens Wisley, Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB