Naming Heathers

The naming of a new garden plant such as a new heather variety – termed a cultivar (from cultivated variety) – is a relatively simple process. If you have raised a new heather and wish to give it a name The Heather Society is able to assist by ensuring the name is registered and then published.

Each new heather cultivar must have a unique name.* To ensure that names are unique, it is important to check whether the name you wish to use has been established by someone else. The Heather Society maintains a database of all names used in the four different genera under its authority.** To find out if the name you want to register and use is available, please contact The Heather Society using this contact form.

We will cross-check the name you suggest and then request that you complete a registration form.

If you are certain the name you want to use is unique, you may download a registration form (in pdf format) here.

Newly registered names are published annually by The Heather Society in its Yearbook, and will be made available following registration on this website New Heathers. The Heather Society will also provide a certificate (as a pdf) for each name registered.

* The naming of cultivars is controlled by the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, eighth edition (2009) (ICNCP).

Under this code new names must be unique, and they

• may not be entirely in Latin form.

• may not be capable of confusion, when either written or spoken, with any other cultivar name within each genus

• may not be made up only of simple descriptive (adjectival) words that could refer to characters common in cultivars of heaths and heathers.

• may not include more than 30 characters excluding spaces and single quotation marks.

** The Heather Society is the International Cultivar Registration Authority (ICRA) for all heathers: plants in the genera Andromeda, Calluna, Daboecia and Erica

Thus, it is part of a world-wide network of International Cultivar Registration Authorities (ICRAs) which play a vital role in promoting uniformity, accuracy and stability in the naming of cultivated plants. It is a non-statutory, voluntary process which benefits the whole horticultural community. ICRAs are appointed by the International Society for Horticultural Science through its Commission for Nomenclature and Registration. For a full list of ICRAs click here.

As ICRA for heathers, The Heather Society maintains a set of databases containing all the names known to have been used for heathers worldwide. It has also published the International register of heather names in two volumes. Volume 1 (2000), in four parts, covered hardy cultivars and European species. Volume 2 (2004), also in four parts, covered all African Erica species, hybrids and cultivars. Supplements appear annually in the Society’s yearbook.