The International Maple Society was appointed International Cultivar Registration Authority (ICRA) for the genus Acer by the International Society for Horticultural Science (I.S.H.S.) in 2013. The ICRA system aims to promote stability in the naming of cultivated plants by promoting lists of authenticated names in a number of important groups of plants which are commonly cultivated. Further information on ICRAs may be found here.
The system is a voluntary, non-statutory one and does not confer any legal protection over the name or the plant. Such protection has to be sought through statutory schemes such as national Plant Breeders’ Rights or Plant Patents. The ICRA system is in effect the horticultural world’s attempt at self-policing of nomenclature and is truly international in its scope. Each ICRA is also charged with 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, registrants should not necessarily rely on this and should try to ensure that their new names are securely established as soon after registration as possible.
Registration of Acer cultivars
For the genus Acer, registration of a new cultivar entails the registrant to complete the registration form that can be found in the Cultivar Registration Section in the International Maple Society Website. The Registration Form is designed to bring together all the information that the ICRA requires so that the Registrar may ensure that a new cultivar name is properly established within the rules as laid down in the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (I.C.N.C.P.). This Code is issued at periodic intervals under the authority of the Commission for the Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants, a body which itself lies under the aegis of the International Union of Biological Sciences (I.U.B.S.). Details of the latest edition of the Code, including details of how to acquire a copy, may be found here. Please fill in the form carefully. The following notes are designed to be helpful for those not familiar with what is required. If you need to include extra papers with the form, please ensure that they are attached together and that each separate sheet is labelled with the proposed name of the cultivar. Remember, a plant is not, in itself, a cultivar. A cultivar is a taxonomic unit made up of a number of plants with the same set of characteristics, so do not attempt to register a name if the original plant has not been propagated to the point where a number of identical plants exist. The I.C.N.C.P. defines a cultivar thus: “A cultivar is an assemblage of plants that has been selected for a particular attribute or combination of attributes and that is clearly distinct, uniform, and stable in these characteristics and that when propagated by appropriate means retains those characteristics.” A summary of how to form a cultivar name may be found here. Photographs, and even videos, should be used along textual description. Such a photographs/videos should show the characteristics whereby the cultivar differs from other known cultivars.
Management of the registered cultivars
Information, pictures, etc. of registered cultivars will be placed in the dedicated section in the International Maple Society Website. This section will serve as the trusted repository for cultivar information and will be instrumental in promoting confidence in the commercialisation of the cultivars. In addition the International Maple Society will use its presence in social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,…) to publicize the event of each new registration.