The growth of interest in growing Erodium that I reported in the initial issue of this Register seems now to have abated. Initially, this interest arose amongst alpine growers attracted to the challenge of growing essentially Mediterranean sub-alpine plants in colder and wetter northern latitudes. More recently, interest grew amongst a wider range of gardeners interested in the beautiful foliage and extremely long flowering seasons of these plants. However, that interest now seems to have waned, perhaps due to the increasingly random weather patterns that we have been seeing: it seems a difficult job to keep these plants growing well in a garden setting if the weather is inclement for any length of time.
As might be expected, the interest of the alpine community was mainly in wild species, although much of the material that was grown subsequently turned out to be of hybrid origin: Erodium are notorious for their promiscuity! However, these hybrid forms did have one major advantage in that they were probably more wet tolerant than the true species. As increasing numbers of more general gardeners became involved, so interest in garden worthy hybrids move to the fore. As a result, a number of collectors and nurserymen came forward with many new selections and hybrids suitable to meet that demand.
For all that the interest in Erodium grew, it was always more limited than the interest in its sister genus Geranium. Erodium by their very nature are more difficult to grow, less well known and less well explored than Geranium. Unfortunately, there has not been a popular publication in Erodium, equivalent to Peter Yeo’s “Hardy Geraniums”. The botanical authority on the subject, Professor Guy-Georges Guittoneau, of Orléans University, produced an authoritative study on Erodium of the Western Mediterranean in 1972 and did much more to help the popularity of the genus, but such efforts have not made the subject accessible to the layman.
In the United Kingdom, Plant Heritage (the NCCPG, as it was), through its then National Collection holders Marie Addeyman and John Ross, did much to popularise the genus in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. Indeed, Marie’s booklet “Erodiums in Cultivation” is still the only popular booklet on the subject in the English language and, whilst a little dated, is still definitive on many of the plants, both species and cultivar. However, neither of those collections now continues to exist.
Another major force in Erodium in recent years was Jean-Pierre Jolivot, a French nurseryman, who inherited many of Professor Guittoneau’s plants when he retired. Jean-Pierre built a very significant French National Collection, based on both newly collected material and hybridisation and selection and was the most prolific breeder of new cultivars. His book and his web-site collectively provided a highly valuable source of information for the Erodium fancier for many years. Many of these plants found their way into England through the late Peter Smith, who specialised in his nursery on Erodium, and through him into the National Collection of the late David Green.
Sadly, all of these individuals have one by one left the scene, so that today there is a much smaller body of enthusiasts still working with the genus. However, they are keeping the interest going and, hopefully, it will grow again before too long.
With that in mind, it is important that the Register is as complete and accurate as it can be. So, if you know of names that are not included or see any errors or omissions, please let me know so that I can make appropriate changes. Any help that you can give will be very gratefully received.
Background to the Register
As Registrar, I have produced the Register on behalf of the International Registration Authority (IRA) for Erodium. They have been prepared according to the recommendations of the “Cultivated Code” of the International Commission for the Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants.
The purpose of the Register is to provide interested parties with a list of cultivar names for Erodium which have been, or are, in circulation. The Register includes all of the names that have been discovered by the Registrar, from a wide variety of sources, including books, articles, nursery catalogues, plant finders, as well as a wide variety of historic sources.
The term “Denomination Class” is defined within the Cultivated Code as “….the taxon within which the use of a cultivar epithet may not be duplicated….” except under very particular circumstances. Also, it is “….a single genus or nothogenus…..”. In this case it is the genus Erodium and, in agreement with that definition, the Register contains all of the cultivar names that have been discovered that fall within that genus.
The status of cultivar names
Cultivars shown in the Register may fall within one of three categories, indicated by the entry under the column ‘Status’. The definition of these terms is as follows:
- “Accepted name” – Cultivars marked thus have been accepted by me as valid cultivar names that comply with all of the rules identified in the Cultivated Code, including those regarding Establishment;
- “Rejected name” – This term is applied to every cultivar name which fails to comply with one of the rules contained within the Cultivated Code. In each case the reason for the invalidity is shown. Where a new or corrected name has been given them, these names are shown in the accompanying notes. However, in a significant number of these cases, the plants have been products of one nursery and have had a limited distribution, which has since ceased. In such cases, a new name has not been allocated.
- “Undetermined name” – this term covers the remainder of the items in the Register, not included in the above definitions. In the main these are cultivars where original publication details are being sought, very often where the development of the cultivar took place at smaller nurseries in the United Kingdom or outside the United Kingdom . In a number of cases that are more than one version of the possible name, which will be resolved when publication details have been obtained.
The structure of cultivar names
Since 1st January, 1959, new Latin epithets have not been acceptable for cultivars. However, there are a number of the pre-1959 ones still in circulation, often referring to plants introduced originally from the wild. Sometimes these names duplicate each other across species within a genus e.g. there are two ‘Album’ epithets within Erodium. In such cases, the correct way to write the name of the cultivar is to include the genus, species and cultivar epithets e.g. Erodium corsicum ‘Album’.
For the greater majority of cultivars, whilst the species epithet may be included in the name, it does not need to be: This is because, generally, there is uniqueness in cultivar names within the Denomination Class (see earlier). Thus, it is as correct to write Erodium ‘Cupidon’ as it is to write Erodium castellanum ‘Cupidon’ and it is certainly rather faster to do so.
This heading indicates the species that the cultivar probably belongs to or the species which are believed to have crossed. The emphasis here is on the word “probable”. Clearly, in the case of chance seedling found in a garden or nursery, the raiser may well believe that the parents were two plants that are nearby. However, in an area with many erodiums, it is reasonably likely that a bee has carried pollen from a remote plant or even that the seed has been carried to another area. Even in the case of planned crossing, it is not impossible that some mistake in the process has led to results other than those planned. We should also not forget that the plants labelled with a species name are only too often a hybrid that has been grown from seed by a thoughtless grower.
An important part of the acceptance criteria for a new cultivar is that it has been properly published in accordance with the Cultivated Code. This normally means that the name has been printed in a dated document which is fairly widely distributed, together with a description which mentions the features by which it can be differentiated from its allies.
All of the cultivars that have the status “Accepted name” have been properly published. This column denotes the earliest place where I have found satisfactory evidence as to that fact. A large number of these references are books or publications which are widely available or fairly easily available through reference libraries, such as the Lindley Library of the Royal Horticultural Society.
Many of the remainder are references to trade publications, particularly nursery catalogues. These are not easily accessible after the event, although copies may be lodged with one of the appropriate libraries.
In this column I have included any other information that I feel might be valuable to the reader. This includes items such as the name of the raiser and where it was raised and what the cultivar name means. In the case of lesser known or new cultivars, I have included a brief description of the plant, based on the raisers notes.
The Cultivated Code calls for the propagation method to be shown for each cultivar. However, that information is not available for many of the cultivars shown on this checklist. However, it is known that erodiums hybridise freely, so it seems reasonable to suggest that to keep cultivars ‘true’ will require that they are propagated vegetatively. It follows that seed produced offspring should not be called by the parents’ cultivar name.
This list of cultivar names is published by the International Registration Authority for Erodium, under the auspices of the Geraniaceae Group and is based on the formal Register which is maintained by the International Registrar and formally printed and published from time to time.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated into any other language, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, without the prior, written permission from the copyright holder.
© David X Victor, 2014
International Registrar for Erodium
- GGN – This abbreviation refers to the Newsletter of the Geraniaceae Group
- “Erodiums in Cultivation”, Marie Addeyman & Richard Clifton. NCCPG and the Geraniaceae Group, London , 1992.
- “Geranium Family Species Check List, Part 1 – Erodium”, Richard Clifton. Geraniaceae Group, Dover . Edition IV, Issue 2 1994.
- “Contribution à l’étude biosystématique du genre Erodium L’Hér. Dans le bassin Méditérranéen occidental”, Guy-Georges Guittonneau. Boissiera Vol. 20. 1972. Conservatoire Botanique, Genève.
- “Les érodium de nos jardins”, Jean-Pierre Jolivot. Pleurtuit , France . 1998.
- “The International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants” C.D. Brickell and others. Quarterjack Publishing, Wimborne, Dorset. England , 2009 – ISSN 0080-0694
- “The Plantfinder”, a Royal Horticultural Society publication, Editor Tony Lord. Dorling, Kindersley Ltd., London , England , various dates – ISBN 0 7513 1945 7