General Discussion forum: iris ethics

 
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Imageauxiris
Oct 7, 2015 10:30 AM CST
Name: Michele
France
Hello everyone. . .
In my twenty years of hybridizing, I've picked up a few notions of how one is supposed to behave with regards to seedlings, named seedlings and registered iris from those people who have helped me with my own hybridizing programme and other friends in the iris world. I've noticed that none (or at least not much) of this sort of information is written down anywhere, thought it would be a good idea if it were and so I decided to try and produce a document that offers a few ideas on the subject. What would be very helpful is if all of you could comment on these ideas or add a few remarks. Thanks in advance!

Iris pollen:
It is not uncommon for hybridizers to see, in gardens other than their own, irises they feel could be useful in their own breeding programs. Collecting pollen in this way, with permission from the garden owner, offers the advantage of not crowding one’s own garden with too many plants and also the possibility of making progress more quickly in one’s hybridizing program. Seedlings belonging to other breeders that are guest irises in any given garden are considered to be “off limits” unless the person collecting pollen has first obtained the breeder’s permission. In the interest of carrying out this practice over large distances, hybridizers have also been sending each other pollen through the postal service for a great many years. When registering plants resulting from pollen taken or offered from another hybridizer’s unregistered seedling, it is considered to be polite and respectful to note the hybridizer’s name with the seedling number in the pedigree (hybridizer’s name + seedling number: So-and-so 25/12A, for example).

Iris seed:
Seed resulting from crosses involving irises in the hybridizer’s garden, whether using pollen collected from his/her own plants or that contributed by another hybridizer or iris grower is the hybridizer’s property, unless he/she offers the seed to someone else. Seed given away to another hybridizer or iris grower becomes the property of the person it is given to, unless some other kind of specific arrangement between the two parties has been made. Plants resulting from seed offered by another person are, generally speaking, considered to be the property of the person who germinates, grows and cultivates them, unless previous arrangements have been made with the hybridizer who originally made the cross, even if the breeder who germinates, grows and cultivates the then decides to share some of the plants with the hybridizer who donated the seed. The person who germinates, grows and cultivates plants from donated seed may name and register these plants as his/her own, without asking permission of the person who originally contributed the seeds, unless the two parties have made special arrangements regarding joint registration, plant sharing and the like. However, even without a specific arrangement, it is considered polite and respectful to note in the registrations of plants that may result from the cultivation of contributed seeds, « plant grown from seed contributed by. . . » Joint efforts are sometimes noted by hyphenated names in the registration, giving credit to both persons, e.g. Lacks-Branch.

Iris seedlings:
Hybridizers have often been known to share seedlings with other hybridizers they trust. When hosting seedlings belonging to other hybridizers, one should NEVER allow the seedlings they have been trusted with out of one's garden without the express permission of the hybridizer whose property they remain. Furthermore, one should NEVER use their pollen or the plant itself for breeding without permission from the hybridizer and one should NEVER use such a plant for breeding as a female parent on its first bloom, as this practice weakens the plant and prevents it from properly establishing itself. The gardener hosting “guest” irises has a great deal of responsibility toward them and must always allow the plants he/she has under his/her care to develop and then perform to the best of the iris’ ability. The cultivar should be labeled with its number or name and the hybridizer’s name. It should be remembered that even plants that have been named, if they are not yet commercialized, ARE STILL SEEDLINGS and must be treated in the same way. If one does not wish to keep the guest seedling(s) in their garden any longer, they are expected to contact the owner and ask what he/she wishes to do about their plant and offer them the possibility of getting all their stock back; this practice allows the hybridizer to keep control over their plants during the period that they are seedlings. It is NOT a good practice to just give away seedlings to just anyone if the seedlings in question would have been discarded and sharing seedlings between breeders is a practice that needs to have hard guidelines.

Registered and introduced irises:
Registered plants are those that have had their existence formally recognised by the registrar of the American Iris Society, who holds the international register for all iris. This implies that the hybridizer has filed a form with the AIS, paid the necessary fee and that the name has been accepted by the registrar. Registration guarantees the exclusive right of that iris to the name it has been given. The hybridizer should make every effort to provide an accurate, complete and honest pedigree when registering his/her seedlings. It should be remembered that the AIS Checklists and R&I booklets published annually are research tools and indeed, a very important part of iris history. A registered plant remains a « named seedling » until its commercialisation, after which it is said to be « introduced », whether by the hybridizer him/herself or a commercial garden. It is the hybridizer’s responsibility to then notify the AIS registrar that it has been introduced and by whom so this information can then be published in the AIS Registrations and Introductions booklet for the introduction year.

Seedlings and registered irises in competition or a convention situation:
If the competition or convention does not exclude seedlings (some competitions allow only plants that are registered and introduced), both numbered or named BUT NOT YET INTRODUCED seedlings may be sent to competitions and conventions. The same courtesy toward guest plants in private gardens applies in a competition or convention situation, e.g. their pollen may NOT be collected and used for breeding unless the hybridizer gives his/her permission and one may NOT make crosses on them either. The hybridizer retains control over any seedlings he/she has sent to compete and they remain his/her property, even if a « donation » is required by the competition or convention organizers and the plants may NOT be sold. It is the hybridizer’s responsibility to keep the organizers informed of changes in status of his/her plants, when they are registered and then introduced. It is the competition or convention organiser's responsibility to keep the hybridizer(s) informed concerning their plants, such as their good health, death or other mishaps. It should be remembered that competitions and/or conventions serve as plant trials and the plants’ performances under different climates for example may be of great help to the hybridizers when selecting plants to register and introduce.

Commercialisation of registered irises:
Generally speaking, the hybridizer or commercial garden that formally introduces a registered iris has the exclusive rights to sales of that plant in its introduction year. This is the year in which the hybridizer will have the greatest financial return on his/her work, as after the plants have been put on the market, the people who purchase them will then be able to multiply the rhizomes of the cultivar in their own gardens. In the United States, it is the exclusive introduction year that allows an iris to enter the AIS awards system, for example. A foreign-bred iris can have access to the AIS awards systems in this way, by exclusive introduction in the United States for its first year on the market by a commercial garden or individual within the USA, though the Dykes Memorial Medal awarded in north America (a British Iris Society award) may only be won by American-bred irises. It should be noted that it is NEVER a good practice to sell seedlings under unregistered names chosen by hazard, as these plants 1) may have been given names that are previously officially registered for other plants, which will make their identification very difficult and 2) they will then be untraceable and this will cause great confusion for breeders, plant nurseries and iris enthusiasts or collectors.
Imagecrowrita1
Oct 7, 2015 11:23 AM CST
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside Co, Illinois Zone 5A
Let me start by saying that I don't *dab pollen*....at least "yet".....so I speak only as one who isn't faced with either the prospect of having to say ,"My *baby* isn't "good enough", so I'll compost it!", or, the question of whether I should "share" my *baby* with another iris growing friend, who thinks it's a real "beauty"!
All your comments make pretty good sense to me....and all seem to be fairly "common sense" proposals .........what's "yours IS yours", and "what's mine IS mine", unless we agree to share !
The one thing I see happen a lot, and really *bothers* me....is the "sharing" of a person's seedlings ! I really do believe that if it's 'good enough to share"...it should be registered ! There are a great many "un registered" iris floating around in peoples gardens.....both private AND commercial......that folks just can't help themselves from "applying" a name to, or, spend a great amount of time trying to FIND a name for. And , if these seedlings are shared out....even if it's a KNOWN , unregistered seedling, and shared, as such......eventually, somebody will "lose" THAT information, and stick a 'garden name "on it, or, worse yet.....say "it MUST be "So and SO"...it sure does LOOK like it !"....and then the REAL "So and SO" has an "imposter" floating around ! Not fair to the REAL "So and SO", the REAL hybridizer, or any one who expects to get the "real deal", and winds up with an imposter !
And just saying, " I'll mark it as "Joe Blow's Seedling"...and THAT will stop all the confusion, is wishful thinking. I might get run over by a bus , tomorrow, and whoever 'cleans up" my garden either won't know, or won't care, if the "seedling name" stays with the iris when it's given away !
Anyway, I think your "Iris Ethics" make good , common, sense, and are well stated Thumbs up !
A few things that we must bear in mind, though, is that "common sense" is a very UN common commodity ! And , as humans, we can ALWAYS find reasons why "rules and ethics" DON'T apply in OUR case !
ImageDaveinPA
Oct 7, 2015 12:54 PM CST
Name: Dave
south central PA, Zone 6a
Very well written and thought out. Thank you.

I also do not dabble in the pollen and seedling growth arena, but there might be some parallels with those who breed animals for food, show or sale. I don't know if organizations as American Kennel Club? has a listing of "rules" that apply to that effort. Such might be good for comparison.

To emphasize what Arlyn said Will Rogers has said "the least common thing is common sense." Cautions are then in order.

Great start and maybe should be submitted for consideration by organizations involved in iris breeding/registration, if they don't stonewall the effort as "it was not invented here" or the politics of the organization.

I do agree with Arlyn's comments on the sharing of seedlings; we have too many unknowns without adding to the group. If unique and interesting then register them!
Imageirisarian
Oct 7, 2015 1:17 PM CST
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA
irises
I agree with your listing of ethical planting and I think is mostly followed. I say 'mostly' as seedlings not good enough for registration are sometimes sold to box stores. I think that there is less of that going on.

Our seedlings have been 'shared' with our introducers; one for 3 yrs & the present one for two. We are lucky in having someone to do this as we could not take the work involved. Also when we did it ourselves between the 2 gardens we sold only 3 plants. We have seen the troubles other people had by working with honest, but inexperienced people. We had to bring the registrars attention to the fact that a plant had been introduced & belonged on the ballot because the hybridizer did not send notice. You would think it would be caught as the ad was in the AIS Bulletin but it was not. We have had good luck with sharing pollen; although pollen from a seedling is more difficult to keep track as numbers can be confusing.
Imageauxiris
Oct 8, 2015 3:14 AM CST
Name: Michele
France
Hello again all. . . thanks very much to the three of you who have made comments so far; very helpful to a possible revision. I had indeed run into quite a lot of "cold feet" sort of reactions when I approached various people about possibly publishing such a thing, mostly due to the fact that it hadn't been written by the people in question. I now doubt very much if any official iris organisation or association would publish such a text. However, all of the ideas are things I have heard over the years from very experienced iris people and apparently this is the way that irises of various status are to be handled. Having had a great deal of problems with folks who don't respect the idea of seedlings as the hybridizer's property, I really did think these things should be written down and published somewhere. I've half a mind to publish this on Facebook as well, though I'm not sure what kind of reception it would receive.
ImageMuddymitts
Oct 8, 2015 5:58 AM CST
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I think it would be well received, Michele. It would be especially valuable for people who are becoming newly interested in Irises (or other hybridized plants) as to being familiar with ownership of hybrids, and manner of handling same. Some of these people go on to be very involved in the Iris community, and would be better prepared with this basic knowledge.

Personally, I was surprised that this hadn't been done before.

Kudos to you.

I think you should publish it on Facebook -- a great place to test the waters, and get a wider reaction than here.
Every day is a second chance. Every day is precious time.
Imagegrannysgarden
Oct 8, 2015 6:26 AM CST
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake, Arkansas, zone 7
The Magnolia Zone
Very well written, Michele, and all good points. I, as some others, do not hybridize but I have been trusted with a few seedlings that others have worked hard on creating. I take these seedlings as a great responsibility. I label them with the persons name followed by the word seedling as this is all the information I have been given. These irises will not be shared in any form and if the creator does finally introduce them they will receive their official name at that time. I have never asked for a seedling, because I am not a hybridizer, but have encouraged a hybridizer to introduce a seedling. As for seeds freely given..... once they are given I think they become the property of the receiver. I have given seeds, furnishing the name of the pod parent, and hope they grow into something wonderful. However, the credit will go to the person who grows and nurtures that seed .... in my opinion.

I am surrounded by a generous lot of people who share their joy freely. HAVING A CODE OF IRIS ETHICS, I THINK, IS A GOOD IDEA. Thank you for coming up with one.

I also have to say that I agree with Arlyn. So many irises are shared that 'are like' another so it must be so. Even I, with my old eyes, can see subtle differences that let me know that they are not the same iris and yet a NoID will be added to the family of the named variety and pollute that irises gene pool. I think many times a bee pod, left too long on a neglected iris bed, will grow an iris that will be grown, traded, sold, etc. under another cultivar's name. I have some NoID's that I allow room in my garden because they are so beautiful. In fact the iris you see by my name above is a NoID. I think it a gorgeous iris but unless I grow the same cultivar along side of it I would not attach a name to it. Having a code of ethics about 'finding an irises name' would also be a good idea.

....... just my thoughts and worth every penny of what you paid for them. smiles

ImageMShadow
Oct 8, 2015 9:24 AM CST
Name: Marilyn Campbell
Houghton Lake, MI
Very interesting reading Michele, and very good ideas. I have 14 irises that I have hybridized growing in my garden. Some of them were planned crosses and the others bee pods. I have them marked only with numbers. If something were to happen to me, no one would know what they are, other than the fact that they are irises. I also agree about iris ethics, but there are so many unethical people that think the rules don't apply to them. At least if there were established guidelines, then they couldn't say that it isn't written down anywhere. It might not stop them from doing what they want, but at least there would be guidelines that should be followed. In the end, it all depends on how honest someone is, but I really think that a document would be a good idea. Good luck with your efforts. I tip my hat to you.
Imageirisarian
Oct 8, 2015 9:41 AM CST
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA
irises
If you have a notebook, Marilyn, you can record the parents of the numbers. I have a smaller 3 ring in which we record the crosses by year. Even bee pods are recorded as sometimes something nice turns up such as John's MTB 'Billie the Brownie.' All other plants in that cross wee discarded. We think we know the pollen parent but that an only be a probable.

Michele do you have an iris club or only the parent organization in France? Your thoughts could be written for the beginning hybridizer & even published under that heading on facebook. That way everyone would get the information without getting their back up. that last idea is a hope, you know how fussy some people can be.
Imageauxiris
Oct 9, 2015 2:47 AM CST
Name: Michele
France
Hi everyone! Thanks for the further comments, all of which are very helpful. I am thinking that it may be a good idea to add a paragraph concerning the attempted identification of plants, whether historic or modern iris and some of the problems that can arise from attaching a possibly wrong name to a no ID plant---if one is not absolutely sure of the identity. I do not indulge in trying to identify plants (except those that grow in my own garden) that have lost their names for various reasons, especially historic, as this is not at all an area in which I am competent. However, I often see photos that people post here and there with a plea for identification attached and perhaps this kind of thing should be addressed.

To answer your question Lucy, no, there is no local iris club here. There is only the SFIB, with which I am not affiliated as I do not share their opinions and also because of terrible problems that I (and others) have had with these people in the past.

I am indeed planning on posting this text on Facebook, even though I do not believe that it will be well received; at least that way it will be seen, even if people don't like it. I do believe that even people who have been in the iris world long enough not to be outright beginners anymore might find it useful.
Imagegrannysgarden
Oct 9, 2015 3:26 AM CST
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake, Arkansas, zone 7
The Magnolia Zone
Michele, it may meet with controversy in the beginning.... I don't know why it would, but in the long run I think it is a very valuable 'iris guide lines' document and should definitely be posted wherever it will be seen. I think a lot of small iris growers/gardeners have never thought about these things. Your document needs a name so the rest of us can gently point to it as guidelines on the care of seedlings, seeds and naming NoID's when questions arise. It is difficult to jump into a conversation and say 'don't do this or that' on ones own convictions. It would be easier to say 'according to the Guidelines of 2015, or some such', and go forward from there. However you plan to proceed will be good for all of us. Thanks for putting these things in writing.
Imageauxiris
Oct 9, 2015 6:20 AM CST
Name: Michele
France
Hi Bonnie. . . well, I do know already that I am not a popular person in the iris world, so there may indeed be a fair amount of resistance to something I say or have written---even though I am only repeating things I have heard many times over the last twenty years, from hybridizers mainly, some of them very well-known. I might present the document as a more "neutral" thing; don't know, haven't decided yet.

I sure do appreciate the amount of support I have seen here; thanks very much to all! I'll present the paragraph concerning iris identification, "garden names" and the like in another couple of days, as I need to think about it---so, I'm off to the garden to replant a few seedlings.
ImageMShadow
Oct 9, 2015 8:27 AM CST
Name: Marilyn Campbell
Houghton Lake, MI
Thumbs up
ImageDaveinPA
Oct 9, 2015 9:54 AM CST
Name: Dave
south central PA, Zone 6a
Maybe the authorship should be attributed to a pseudonym? No idea what that would stir up!
Imagetveguy
Oct 9, 2015 10:27 AM CST
Name: Tom
Wisconsin
You might title it "Historically accepted practices and guidelines for iris growers and Hybridizers". Smiling
Imagecrowrita1
Oct 9, 2015 10:34 AM CST
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside Co, Illinois Zone 5A
It would be nice to see it as an article in "irises"........titled something like "One Hybridizer's View On Ethics in the Garden ", or some such ! I think, too often, all of us 'forget" our "manners' when it comes to *sharing* iris, or even iris photographs......something that I do, and always with mixed emotions Sticking tongue out ....is "share", or trade, iris with other 'iris buddies', and at the same time, bemoan the loss of the "commercial sellers" who go *out of business* ! In reality , the best way to keep those *commercial sources*, ...is to BUY from them ! I usually try to purchase iris from the hybridizer, if possible.......ie. the Tasco's from Superstition, or the Spoon's from Winterberry, and , although I seldom buy "new introductions", (I tend to wait until the price comes down, a bit *Blush* ), I still would rather give them the chance of selling their "own" iris. ( That is rather hard to do, as , most of the hybridizers I tend to "collect", have been tending the big iris garden in the sky for a long time Sticking tongue out )
ImageMuddymitts
Oct 9, 2015 11:15 AM CST
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I make a point of placing one nice-sized order each year with one of the main Iris houses -- and usually from the hybridizer's business (like you Arlyn). I realize that trading Irises diminishes sales for all of them -- but I content myself with the thought that as these Irises are shared visually (pictures) on websites like Cubits and ATP, more and more people see them and buy them. Also -- once the hybridizer shares/sells rhizomes of his or hers with other businesses, they are effectively closing the door on income from those cultivars.

Another thought -- because I've been gifted some very beautiful and recent cultivars, that has spurred my interest in -- and purchase of -- newer and more expensive varieties. So maybe there's a balance there.

Also -- we seem to see people withdrawing from business due to age or illness -- and not from lack of sales. I dunno -- Shrug!
Every day is a second chance. Every day is precious time.
Imagegrannysgarden
Oct 9, 2015 12:44 PM CST
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake, Arkansas, zone 7
The Magnolia Zone
Quite a few good points, Mary Ann. I often see an iris posted by one of my iris friends and know that in a few years they will share but I don't want to wait so I buy it NOW from the iris vendor.

I also understand Arlyn's position. It is a lot like buying used books, which I do quite a lot, from used book stores, goodwill stores, yard sales and flea markets. The author has worked perhaps for years on this one book and I get it for a quarter and the author gets nothing.....

Recently I have noticed that some of the irises that are becoming scarce are being searched for by the hybridizer. I hope we share enough that we can always find the iris.
Imageirisarian
Oct 9, 2015 1:58 PM CST
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA
irises
One can lose one's own hybridized plants if not careful; main because of space. Suddenly it carries something you need in looks or hybridizing so you have to search for it. I sometimes see plants which I no longer grow & need to get after them.

Iris prices can be high the first few years but are nothing like daylily prices.

Michele --with new people starting to hybridize, they may not know about crediting people for the plants, unless they are under the care & feeding of an experienced person.
ImageMuddymitts
Oct 10, 2015 9:52 AM CST
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
Right, Bonnie. And something that I thought of after posting that message last night -- look at the reaction when someone posted a picture of Fangnificent (on ATP, I think) -- several of us jumped right in and placed an order for it. AND -- for companion Irises that were on sale at the same time. That's a good thing that would not have happened without the interaction of list members.

Exactly right, Lucy!!
Every day is a second chance. Every day is precious time.

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