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Role of the RHS International Conifer Registrar
By Sabina G. Knees

The Royal Horticultural Society is the registration authority for nine groups of plants including all conifers and their cultivars, a role it has held since 1962. To date, a comprehensive Register has been published in four alphabetic parts covering names in genera from Abies to Pherosphaera, complemented by occasional supplements in journals such as the International Dendrology Society’s Yearbook and the American Conifer Society’s journal, Conifer Quarterly. The Register lists all botanical and horticultural names applied to conifers, giving brief details of origin and characteristics for cultivars.

To encourage more growers to register new cultivars, a new Registration Form was developed by my predecessor, Mr Piers Trehane, to help achieve consistency in data compilation. This form ensures that the provisions of the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants are followed in the registration process, and is designed with ease of use in mind, especially from the viewpoint of growers, horticulturists and any other interested parties who wish to register a new name.
Unlike many groups of plants, there are particular problems with cultivar names in conifers. Being long-lived plants, many cultivars have been extant for over 100 years and since it only became a requirement to name cultivars in non-Latin form in 1959, many are named with latinized epithets which are easily confused with species epithets: indeed, many cultivars were originally named in such a way that they appear to have been treated as species or wild variants of species at the time of publication and considerable expertise is required to re-evaluate the taxonomic category to which the names of such plants should be assigned.
More details relating to registration and the new form are given in Trehane, P. (2003) Stability in the naming of conifers: introducing the new registration form for cultivar names, in Mill, R.R. (ed.) Proceedings of the Fourth International Conifer Conference. Acta Horticulturae number 615.
Currently, I am compiling Part 5
*of the Register and have come across several names that lack information. I would appreciate any help that members of the British Conifer Society may be able to provide regarding the following cultivars:

Podocarpus ‘Golden Dwarf’ hort. UK 1985
Prumnopitys andina ‘Golden Dwarf’ hort. UK
Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Aureovariegata’ hort. USA 1991 and 2004 – unacceptable name
Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Hoffman’ hort. Germany EEC specification p. 65
Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Julie’s Jewel’ hort. America 1985 - no information found
Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Little Jamie’ hort. America 1992 - no information found
Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Praq’ hort. Germany 1991 – no information found
Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Prostrata’ hort. America 1986 and 2001, Hilliers list 1972 – unacceptable name
Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Rissen’ hort. Holland 1990 - no information found
Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Spaan’s Weeper’ hort. America 1980 - J.W. Springarn, Long Island - no description – not traced
Pseudotsuga menziesii ‘Young’s Broom’ hort. America 1980 - no description
Sciadopitys verticillata ‘Cross Compact’ hort. USA - originator not traced
Sequoia sempervirens ‘Woodside Blue’ hort. America
Sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Hexenbesen Eschrich’ hort. Germany
*   Part 5 was published in 2009

The International Conifer Register compiled by J. Lewis, edited by A.C. Leslie can be obtained from the RHS. Further details can be obtained by contacting mailorder@rhs.org.uk. Parts published so far include:

Part 1. 1987. Abies to Austrotaxus. 61pp.

Part 2. 1989. Belis to Pherosphaera (includes the genera Cedrus, Cryptomeria and Larix). 100pp.

Part 3. 1992. The Cypresses (Chamaecyparis, Cupressus and X Cupressocyparis). 197pp.

Part 4. 1998. Juniperus. 144pp.

Part 5  2009  Phyllocladus to Sundacrpus 116pp  

Part 6 Picea

Part 7 Pinus

Part 8

Supplements to the register have been published in the Year Book of the International Dendrology Society.
Lewis, J. 1993. Additions to the International Conifer Register. International Dendrology Society Yearbook 1992:21-28.
Trehane, P. 1995. Additions to the International Conifer Register. International Dendrology Society Yearbook 1994:61-63.
Trehane, P. 1998. Additions to the International Conifer Register. International Dendrology Society Yearbook 1997:64-68.

Written by: Sabina G. Knees

L S Springate