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Re: Look-a-like hostas

  • Subject: Re: Look-a-like hostas
  • From: "Bill Meyer" <njhosta@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 21:34:22 -0400

Hi Gerry,
       You can find sports that have other changes than variegation. These
happen occasionally and can be interesting. What people will think about
them if you try to sell them depends to a large extent on how you describe
them. Catalog descriptions are so renowned for their dishonesty that I've
seen several articles written about how to translate them into English. For
example: "Forms an attractive low-growing groundconver" = highly invasive
spreader that you will regret ever buying. Slug resistance is not a good
choice though, because it's a confusing term. Maybe the slug species where
you live don't like it, or maybe your slugs happened to lay their eggs at
the base of the plant next door. Remember that 'Invincible' was once
described in catalogs as "impervious to slugs".
        You could get a sport with a thicker leaf, or one with fasciated
scapes, or some other change not related to variegation. The center color
could be a slightly lighter green or the margin narrower. All sorts of
things could be different. I recently found a 'Piedmont Gold' with a light
green center, much lighter than 'Satisfaction'. It is clearly different
enough to give a new name to, but would anyone want to buy it if they saw
it? Some hosta seem to have a very wide range of differences among
vegetatively propagated clones. 'Wide Brim', for example, shows a lot of
variation in margin width. Next time you're in a nursery look at them.
'Hyacinthina' and its sports show a range of glaucous-ness. Some are much
"bluer" than others. I have two 'Winter Snow's- one emerges shiny medium
green in the center, and the other a glaucous dark blue-green. After a few
weeks they look the same. Technically I could name the one that's different
from the norm (whichever one that is), but what would be the point?
       There aren't any rules about what should have a name and what
shouldn't. None of poor paranoid Chick's "secret committees" are looking
over your shoulder waiting to pounce if you name a plant you shouldn't have.
Herb Benedict, one of the hosta world's most renowned figures, named
anything and everything he felt like naming. Other's won't name a plant
until they are sure it's a really good one. What to name and when to name it
is a personal decision. Registering should be done if the plant is different
in some way, but it's OK to register it if it's the same should you want to
let the world know that you found it too. Registration is only a record of
what hostas were named and what they looked like.
        Selling them is different. If your customers are unhappy with what
they bought they usually won't say anything to you about it. You can bet
another dollar that they'll talk to others, though. Speaking of dollars,
does my new sport win that bet, Chick?

..........Bill Meyer

> This is a really good discussion, guys. Thanks!
> But it seems like we are focusing almost entirely on the *looks* of the
> plant in deciding whether plants are the same and therefore not eligible
> for registration under a new name.
> Suppose I have a Piedmont Gold that throws a sport that looks exactly like
> Satisfaction. I separate it and grow it on for a while next to a plant of
> Satisfaction that I bought from Chick. After several years, it looks still
> looks exactly like Satisfaction, but has incredible slug resistance that
> Satisfaction lacks. (This is an example; I am not accusing Satisfaction of
> being slug candy...but suppose it was?)
> If I register this sport under the name of Gerry's Salvation, am I going
> be accused forever of registering the same plant under a different name?
> Is there any consideration of noteworthy hosta traits other than looks?
> Or, suppose Mary comes up with a sport of Cherry Berry that is a Marachino
> Cherry look-a-like, but thrives in our hot, humid Southern climate. If she
> chooses to register it as Lakeside Cherry Volunteer (inside joke) is she
> be condemned for introducing Maraschino Cherry to the trade under a new
> Is there a place on the registration form where characteristics like slug
> resistance, heat tolerance, other non-visual traits, to be listed?
> And to get really picky, if a sport is by definition a somatic mutation,
> 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??
> Gerry
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