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International Cultivar Registration Authority

A cultivar is a particular type of cultivated plant that people have created or selected for its interesting features. Tradescantia Hub is the international cultivar registration authority (ICRA) for the Tradescantia genus (here is the official page on the ISHS website, the organisation which appoints ICRAs). That means I’m officially in charge of keeping track of all cultivar names that are ever used in the genus, throughout the world.

As ICRA, I follow a detailed set of rules that have been internationally agreed for decades. The official version is very long and wordy, but I’ve also written a plain english translation.

There are three elements to the job of ICRA:

1. Documenting old names for existing cultivars

Cultivars are often distributed with multiple different names, and it can be hard to know which is correct. My job is to make an official decision about which name is right for each cultivar, and publish it to make it definitive. This will stabilise names within the genus from history and into the future, so that everyone will be able to use the right name for any plant.

I have now finished my initial cultivar research. All the information is now publicly, freely available to everyone in the online checklist. So hopefully in future no-one else will ever have to repeat the detective work I did on old names!

To find out about the details of my process, you can read the full report I wrote for my RHS bursary which helped fund my work. You can also check out some articles about particular cultivars or interesting questions I’m working on on.

2. Registering new names for new cultivars

Anyone can make up a name for a new plant and start selling it. But the ICRA system exists to make the process more organised and systematic, so that it’s easier for everyone to benefit from. When someone creates a new Tradescantia cultivar, they can register it directly with me, and I will:

  • Make sure the name follows the rules.
  • Publish the name so that it becomes established and official, and no-one can override it later.
  • Keep a permanent archive of information about the plant and its origins, so that anyone in the future can find out about it.

This entire process is free and has nothing to do with money, trademarks, or patents. The information is freely publicly available for anyone to benefit from. And people creating new cultivars get help to publish and document them. Everybody wins!

If you have a new cultivar you’d like to register, you can get started here.

3. Cultivar checklist

The two parts above come together to make a cultivar checklist, which should contain every known cultivar name from the entire genus – old and new.

Having a unified checklist makes it easy to check and compare names that might have been duplicated or reused. Each valid cultivar is connected to any synonyms that have been used for it, so that it’s easy to correct mislabelled plants. It also includes all the information that’s available about the history and origins of the plant, as well an explanation for any decisions where I had to choose between multiple established names for the same cultivar.

You can view the complete list here, and read a guide on how to use it.

Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Aurea’