About the International Register of Pelargonium Cultivars

The International Register and Checklist, with over 17,000 entries, was originally produced and published in 2008. This took many years to compile, as the source documents were either hand written / typed lists or old nursery catalogues, some over 100 years old and produced in a number of countries around the world. Hybridisers have continued to introduce new plants and to send details of them to The Pelargonium and Geranium Society (PAGS), who are responsible for the upkeep of the Register.

The upkeep of these records meant that the register had to be reprinted on a regular basis and the cost implications were making this financially unviable.The solution was to convert the Register onto a website that was separate to the PAGs site which, up to this point had collected the new cultivar data from the hybridisers. The current Register is an alphabetical list of plants with descriptions of what the plant looks like. It was decided to utilise what is currently in the Pelargonium Register albeit laying out the content according to web page convention.

We felt that by exporting the Register information electronically we would produce the on-line version quite quickly but in reality, as we wanted the information to be fully searchable, every record had to be placed into a new database, a task which has taken a dedicated team many months to complete. The original Register does not have any pictures of the plants and we were keen to add as many as possible to the site. This was going to be difficult and time consuming, as many plants have been lost. However with the help of Fibrex Nursery, who hold and maintain the National Plant Collection, as approved by plant conservation charity Plant Heritage, we have so far taken over 400 photographs and it is planned to shoot the remaining 1,600 plants in the collection this year once they are in flower again. To keep the Register up to date the website uses an electronic submission form which automatically sorts the entry into the same database structure as the other entries. New plants can be submitted for inclusion in the Register along with a photograph of the plant. The Registrar has the responsibility to verify and approve the submission.

A key characteristic of the new Register is that it is fully searchable. Every plant entry is ‘tagged’ with key characteristics as it is entered into the database and this enables it to be searched by a number of relevant terms. Therefore, if a user wants to view the Register as it is displayed in the printed Register, i.e. alphabetically, then that is how the default display is on the web page. However, if the user wants to only see Zonal Cultivar types with single flowers they can select the characteristics from a drop down menu. A user can be as selective as they like, for example, they can search for all Tri-coloured Plants with double flowers that were registered prior to the year 1900. Once the search terms are picked the page will display all the relevant items. A free text search will also be available allowing the use of any term to search through the database.

The Pelargonium and Geranium Society is a non-profit making organisation and have been fortunate to receive a significant grant from the Stanley Smith (UK) Horticultural Trust, without whose help this project would not have been possible and for this we are very appreciative.

The International Registrar, is responsible for reviewing applications for registrations of new cultivars and in assessing a new cultivar for acceptance into the Register. PAGS strictly adhere to the code and practices of the International Code of Nomenclature guidelines. This makes the plant name legitimate; gives it priority as well as ensuring clarity rather than confusion and avoids repetition of a name, something that happened frequently in the past.

The next steps will be to set up sub editors around the world to update the Register with plants introduced in their countries and to source pictures of plants we are still looking for.

International Registrar for the Pelargonium Cultivar

Stephen Pollard