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Re: Look-a-like hostas

  • Subject: Re: Look-a-like hostas
  • From: "Andrew Lietzow" <andrewl@hostahaven.com>
  • Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 11:44:56 -0500

Gerry/Bob O'Neill wrote:
RE:>>Is there any consideration of noteworthy hosta traits other than looks?
RE:>>> And to get really picky, if a sport is by definition a somatic
> how can anyone say that sports from two different plants of August Moon
> the same, especially if those August Moons were propagated by division
> rather than tc??
No matter how we arrive at the destination, through whatever circuitous
routes we take, it seems that the discussion on "worthiness" includes the
discussion point, "Is the plant indentical, or only similar".  In my limited
understanding of bioinformatics, there is a high probability that some small
number of plants are identical within the same cultivar.  For all practical
purposes, however, we simply call them all identical because we cannot
visually discern any differences without the aid of microscopes, flow
cytometers, DNA sequencers and the like.  Such plants should be considered

But what do we do when someone discovers that plants that looked identical
are in fact only similar?  Such plants exist and more will be added to this
list as access to advanced investigative tools becomes more affordable.  If
the August Moon that is slug resistant happens to be tetraploid, but in all
other respects looks identical to a diploid August Moon, then the new plant
should be registered under a new name.  Herein lies the basis for a new
registration yet that difference must be documented well.  (Ran's insistance
on accuracy in labeling is paramount.  Chick already mentioned the lack of
attention to this detail in some shipments from other continents and it IS
very important, even if not to all consumers).

Many of the registered streaky plants give one pause upon examination to try
and discern the differences.  Some are worthy of registration, but if the
registrant claims that they are different, have the differences been well
documented?  If the plant will not reproduce true to type and the offspring
will be a hodge podge of very dissimilar plants, has the industry been
served well by adding this NEW registration?   I'm afraid some of this has
gotten out of control and is hurting the industry because the diffentiation
between plants cannot be accurately described and the offspring do not hold
true to type.   Accurate descriptions are extremely important (spelling
being just the start).  These descriptions are just as important as the
formula for making a Big Mac at all of the McDonald's around the world.  The
control mechanism is the corporate office at McDonald's and the control
mechanism for Hosta registrations is vested in the AHS registrar--for the
entire world!  By allowing much of the control mechanism to be vested in the
submitter of the registration, we run the risk of losing the benefits of
consistently applied registration criteria and losing respect of Hosta
societies in far away places, or even some domestically.

Take for example the plant "Bette Davis Eyes" pictured at the Hosta Library.
In the description, the leaf is described as being "cordate".  A term
"heart-shaped" is shown on the registration form for a description to be
applied to the BASE of the leaf. (I'm sure many of us think of this
descriptive term as applying to the whole leaf, yet it apparently is not).
The only picture that I see of H. 'Bette Davis Eyes', however, is that of a
leaf that is primarily elliptical (at the Hosta Library) with a tapered
base.   Of course, we all are glad to have pictures of even a juvenile leaf
at the Hosta Library, and Bob does us a great service to get those early
pics posted to the site, but if this picture is of a MATURE plant, then
somewhere along the way someone has let a fly get into the ointment.  Such
descrepancies either need to be resolved or the inaccuracies are
perpetuated.  Either the picture is inaccurate for this plant when it is
mature, or the description is inaccurate.  This may not trouble most
observers, but at the taxonomic level, it is very important.  How else will
you be able to tell this plant appart from the many that appear similar in
appearance?  What will consumers think if they are ordering a plant that is
described as having a cordate leaf base shape and they receive one that is
tapered?  They will think they were shipped the wrong plant and may become
angry about it.  Trivia?  Not to some people.   What if this example was
about flower color?

Which brings me to the question, "how's that AHS database coming along?"
It's a lot of work for a team of volunteers, yet when the mechanism is in
place for adding new cultivars,  it will be a huge asset.  I do hope that it
will include a picture of such plants as Bette Davis Eyes that would show a
"Cordate (heart-shaped), leaf base shape", since the registration photo
would likely have provided same.  And if it didn't, I hope the descriptive
term "cordate" would soon be corrected.  This may lead to a higher
registration fee (BOO!, BOO!), yet how else can the need for increasing
levels of detail and accuracy be realized?   How will we manage 10,000
registrations unless by increasing the attention to accuracy, detail, and
rigor being applied to the registration process?  The onous of
responsibility should fall on the registrant, to prove just WHY this plant
is not identical to other registered types.

A training course or even a video seems to be part of the answer.  What
pricing point should such a video have?

Andrew Lietzow
#1 Plantsman at http://HostaHaven.com
1250 41st Street
Des Moines, IA 50311-2516

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