Re: cultivar versus cultigen

Dave Rindos (rindos@OPERA.IINET.NET.AU)
Tue, 13 Aug 1996 07:32:58 +0800

On Fri, 9 Aug 1996, Jay Bernstein wrote:

> I have been asked to explain the difference between a cultivar and a
> cultigen (I used both terms in a paper). Improvising, I said : "A cultigen
> is a plant for which a wild ancestor is unknown, while a cultivar is a
> cultivated plant."

Interesting question. Now that I think of it, I don't recall seeing a
definition of this distinction, so I can only say how I use them,
admitting that it all gets pretty hazy at times.

"Cultigen" is the larger taxon while "cultivar" is a specific cultivated
variety ["culti-var"] in the larger cultivated genus ["culti-gen"].

Hence one would have the cultigen Tomato and the cultivar 'Roma'. Last I
knew, cultivar has status under the International Rules governing
botanical nomenclature, but cultigen does not. Cultivars, as used in the
botanical literature, must be set off with single quotation marks.

Today's trivia: In the naming of cultivated orchids another level exists,
that of the grex. The grex is a specific individual in a hybrid cross
which is propagated by vegetative means. Hence, the cultivar name in most
other genera (Apple 'Macintosh' or Hybrid Tea Rose 'Peace') would be
considered a grex name in orchids.


           Dave Rindos
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