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					                    THE CULTIVATED PLANT CODE
International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated             Following representations from some of the
Plants (Published in 2004 by the International           major user groups of the Code a new section gives
Society for Horticultural Science as Acta                explicit guidance on how the status of cultivar and
Horticulturae No 647)                                    Group names should be indicated. Cultivar status
    The seventh edition of the ICNCP, or                 should only be indicated by enclosing the epithet in
Cultivated Plant Code, was published early in 2004.      single quotes and not by using the abbreviation “cv.”
This new Code is the culmination of international        i.e. ‘Longworth Double’, not cv. Longworth Double
discussion and debate which reached peaks of             or cv. ‘Longworth Double’. Formal Group status is
activity during the Third International Symposium        indicated by the use of the word Group (note the
on the Taxonomy of Cultivated Plants held in             capital letter), or its equivalent in other languages,
Edinburgh in 1998 and at the following Fourth            used as the first or final word in the epithet
Symposium held within the 2002 International             depending on linguistic custom e.g. Hydrangea
Horticultural Congress in Toronto. The object            macrophylla Groupe Hortensis (in French), Begonia
remains the same as it did when the first edition        Elatior Group (in English).
appeared in 1953: to put the naming of the past               In this new revision the Commission has tried to
into order and to provide for that of the future.        take as liberal approach as possible, only seeking to
    The Code is the responsibility of a Commission       maintain restrictions when a real chance of
of the International Union of Biological Sciences        significant confusion would arise if certain words or
and in 1995 the Commission was responsible for a         practices were to be employed. This is most evident
major revision, re-ordering and re-structuring of the    in Article 19, dealing with the formation of cultivar
rules which has essentially stood up well to practical   epithets. This is the longest Article in the Code and
use. This new edition therefore maintains the overall    probably that most frequently consulted. The
style of the 1995 Code but contains a few note-          provisions have been grouped for easier
worthy changes and additions. As far as possible the     comprehension into five sections and some of the
language of the Code has been simplified to remove       more notable changes incorporated include the
technical or jargon words and the number of              following:
illustrative examples has been increased.                     • allowing the use of Latin words which are
    The Code now deals with the names of plants                 in current use in a language other than
in just two categories: the cultivar and the Group              Latin e.g. as terms, common phrases,
(the latter term replacing the more cumbersome                  personal names or place names
“cultivar-group” and reflecting the fact that Groups          • removal of the 10 syllable limit on epithet
may contain individual plants as well as named                  length, the only restrictions now being a
cultivars). Extensive examples of what may                      maximum length of 30 characters
constitute a cultivar or a Group are provided.                • allowing epithets to be novel inventions
    For the first time the Code also includes full              (i.e. made up words)
provision for the formation and use of grex names,            • making it unacceptable to form an epithet
the particular sort of Group used only by orchidists            from a single letter or solely of Arabic or
and defined solely by parentage.                                Roman numerals
    One structural innovation in the layout of the            • removal of the word “cross” from the list of
Code concerns the removal of the provisions                     words banned in cultivar epithets
relating to registration of names and International           • explicit indication that numerals may form
Cultivar Registration Authorities (formerly                     part of a cultivar epithet
International Registration Authorities), as well as           • explicit banning of the use of fractions and
those concerning nomenclatural standards (formerly              most symbols in epithets
Standards), to separate Divisions within the Code.            Moreover rules on the use of the latin or
As registration and the citation of nomenclatural        common names of a genus or species as part of
standards are not requirements for new names it          cultivar epithet have been considerably relaxed. It is
was considered they would sit more easily outside        still not possible to use the name of the genus to
the formal rules. A new Division has also been           which a cultivar belongs as part of its cultivar
included, summarised from the Botanical Code,            epithet, but so long as confusion is unlikely the use
dealing with how hybrid generic names should be          of other names is allowed. Thus if a rhododendron
formed. This is an area of especial importance to        breeder wants to name a series of his new seedlings
orchid breeders where intergeneric crosses are very      after his daughters Lily, Veronica, Erica, Victoria
common.                                                  and Daphne he can now do so.
    This section ends with a series of further         actively involved if no ICRA exists or an objection
Recommendations (i.e. not Rules) which, whilst not     is raised to an ICRA decision. All decisions, either
mandatory for the purposes of the Code, give           of an ICRA or the Commission, are only effective
guidance on names which might prove unacceptable       following their publication.
to others such as statutory authorities considering        Trademarks are beyond the jurisdiction of this
names under National Listing or Plant Breeders’        Code and it is made clear that should an established
Rights legislation.                                    cultivar name be successfully challenged as being in
    Further consideration has also been given to the   conflict with a prior trademark right, then a new
often contentious issue of correct spelling, in the    name has to be found for the plant concerned.
full knowledge that this area can generate more            Similarly the formation of trade designations is
heated debate than all the rest put together (the      not regarded as a matter governed by the Code.
taxon/culton debate aside perhaps). New departures     Indeed these devices, used to market a plant in
in this Code include:-                                 place of the accepted name, are not considered to
    • provision to add accents and other               be names in the sense of the Code. The Code
      diacritical marks if it is thought that          merely indicates that trade designations should not
      demands of linguistic custom are better          be enclosed within single quotes and recommends
      served by doing so, even if they were not        they should be typographically distinguished from
      used in the original publication                 cultivar epithets.
    • in transcribed Japanese epithets if a long           There is much more besides the rules within the
      vowel is to be indicated with an accent that     slim volume that forms the new Code, including a
      must be the macron (e.g. o) not the              full glossary, lists of the current ICRAs and
      circumflex or any other device                   statutory registration authorities, as well as a listing
    • the ligatures “æ” and “œ” indicating the         of special denomination classes and institutions
      letters are pronounced together should be        maintaining nomenclatural standards.
      transcribed as separate letters –ae- and –oe-        This Code is part of a continuing process of
    • the ampersand (“&”) is to be transcribed as      evolution and improvement. A Code that changes
      “and” – or its equivalent in other languages     too much or too frequently will soon lose effect and
      depending on the language used when              standing, but at the same time the rules need to
      establishment of the name took place             change to respond to changing practice and
    • the symbol #, when meaning ‘number’ in           opinion. If you have views that you feel are not
      English is be to be written as “No” or spelt     reflected in the Code please make them known to
      out in full: again provision being made for      the Commission.
      different words in other languages.
    In general this edition of the Code aims to        Dr A C Leslie
provide standardisation in dealing with spelling in    IUBS Code Commission
order that compilers of listings, especially in        RHS Garden, Wisley, Woking
electronic databases may have consistency in their     Surrey GU23 6QB, UK
    Of particular significance to future               December 2004
nomenclatural stability are the clarified and
augmented provisions for the continued recognition
of names contrary to the Code but which are in
widespread/long established use. Gradually
botanists have been extending provision in the
Botanical Code for well-known, widely used generic
and species names that fall foul of some
nomenclatural rule and the ICNCP has similarly
been developing provisions in this respect. If the
Codes are not to be seriously undermined such
action has to be taken sparingly and only with good
reason. In the 1995 Code a combination of
sanctioning (by an ICRA) linked to conservation
(by the Commission) was outlined, but the detail of
its operation was not clear and the conservation
element rarely invoked. In the 2004 Code ICRAs
have been given wider authority to designate a
name as acceptable (sanctioning as a term
disappears) and the Commission only becomes

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