The Carnivorous Plant FAQ v. 11.5
- courtesy of -
The International Carnivorous Plant Society

Q: What are cultivars?

A: The word cultivar comes from a contraction of "cultivated variety", and it designates a horticulturally recognized, special plant. A cultivar is a plant that has been selected for its particular qualities that make it stand out from other plants.

Cultivars names are more than just fluff. They are a way to identify named plants in a consistent, searchable way. If you have a plant with a cultivar name and want to know what its characteristics are, you can look them up in the registry maintained by the "International Cultivar Registration Authority" (ICRA). For carnivorous plant cultivars, the ICRA is the International Carnivorous Plant Society.

The rules of cultivar registration were not created by the International Carnivorous Plant Society, of course. The International Carnivorous Plant Society simply follows the same international rules that all the other cultivar registries follow.

You can identify a plant as a cultivar because the plant has a cultivar name in single quotes, for example, Sarracenia 'Dixie Lace' or Darlingtonia 'Othello.' Because single quotes are used to denote cultivars, it is important not to use single quotes in your plant lists for other purposes. For example, you should not refer to a nice S. leucophylla that came from Alabama as S. leucophylla 'Alabama', because that looks like a cultivar name. Using double quotes like S. leucophylla "Alabama" is better, but could still be confused for a cultivar name. I recommend that you use a dash instead, like
S. leucophylla---Alabama.

There is a common misconception about how much information is needed when using a cultivar name for carnivorous plants. In fact, you are only required to provide the genus name along with the single-quoted cultivar epithet. For examples:
Sarracenia 'Adrian Slack'
Utricularia 'Yog-Sothoth'
Pinguicula 'Libelulita'

You can provide the species epithet or hybrid cross information if you wish, but it is neither required nor prohibited. So if you desired, you could write the above list of cultivar names as:
Sarracenia flava × leucophylla 'Adrian Slack'
Utricularia calycifida 'Yog-Sothoth'
Pinguicula moranensis 'Libelulita'

Mind you, just because you have a lovely and wonderful plant, it is not necessarily worth registering as a cultivar. I have never met a Sarracenia I didn't like, but hardly any qualify in my mind as being cultivars! I think that cultivar names should be reserved for plants that are really special.

If you want to register a plant as a cultivar, you must go to the home page for the International Carnivorous Plant Society and download registration forms and instructions.

Page citations: Brickell, C.D. et al. 2004; Trehane, P. et al. 1995; Rice, B.A. 2006a; personal observation.

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Revised: January 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005