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Australian Cultivar Registration Authority Inc.
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Australian Cultivar Registration Authority

What does ACRA do?

The objectives and purposes of ACRA are:

List of Registered Cultivars

A list of Registered Cultivars with links to their descriptions and photographs is maintained by ACRA.

The photographs of cultivars are incorporated into the Australian Plant Image Index (APII).

Cultivar Names

Many cultivars of Australian native plants are not registered formally with ACRA.

One role of ACRA is to keep track of all cultivar names by ensuring they are listed in the Australian Plant Name Index (APNI).

Search for cultivar names in APNI here


Under the 2004 International Code for Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants ACRA is the "International Registration Authority for Australian plant genera excluding those covered by other authorities". This includes all endemic genera and all predominantly Australian genera. We also register all Australian varieties accepted by the Australian Plant Breeders Rights Office. There are also some species that belong to genera that are not predominantly Australian which we have accepted registrations for Helichrysum, Syzygium and Microlaena are some examples.

To find out more about the International Cultivar Registration Authorities, visit their web site.

In recent years we have also accepted the role of advising the Plant Breeders Rights Office. All applications for new indigenous varieties are submitted to ACRA for an assessment of whether or not they are already known. Under the PBR Act (1994) Section 44.2 "If an application for PBR in a plant variety is accepted and the plant variety is a variety of a species indigenous to Australia the Secretary must require supply of a satisfactory specimen plant of the variety to the herbarium". Under the Regulations the Secretary has designated the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) Herbarium as the place for this collection to be kept, and it is integrated into the cultivar collection kept by ACRA for administrative and user convenience. The herbarium collection will become increasingly important as an aid to checking the novelty of new cultivars. You can search the PBR Database to see the status of PBR applications.

Why do we need stable plant names?

The primary aim is to promote stable nomenclature. This helps nursery owners to protect their property rights, plant breeders can relate knowledge of genetics to plant material, taxonomists know what they are working with, communicators can have more confidence in the information they publish, retailers can source plant material, and the general public can link their purchases to published information on gardening. For the trade user we believe that the use of correct nomenclature should be part of quality assurance accreditation and we recommend that the approved (internationally accepted) name should appear on plant labels regardless of the trademarked or promotional name used. Registration of a cultivar does not give the applicant any intellectual property rights (unlike PBR), but it does prevent another individual obtaining exclusive rights through PBR (cultivar piracy is not unknown in Australia).

Why do plant names sometimes change?

Everyone complains when plant names are changed and it always causes some confusion so why does it happen? Names are changed for three reasons. Sometimes they change because a botanical taxonomist has reclassified the plant. This is usually based on more advanced knowledge about the relationships between plants and is often beneficial to breeders as more closely related plants are grouped together. However, it is common for reclassifications to be disputed among taxonomists and in the end it is only common usage that determines whether a new name has been accepted or not. With cultivated plants the cultivar name is fixed - it can't be changed for botanical reasons - but the botanical part of the name (genus, species) can be changed. A second reason to change a name is when the original name was incorrect. This is usually because the original specimen was misidentified, a common occurrence with new cultivated plants. Finally a name can be changed if it is not in accordance with the rules of nomenclature or if a mistake was made in spelling the name.

What is the ACRA?

ACRA is a committee formed by representatives of each of the major regional (State) botanic gardens, the Society for Growing Australian Plants, and the Nursery Industry Association of Australia. In addition we can appoint other members who we feel represent special interests or who have expertise that is of value to us. ACRA was incorporated as an association (Association no.: A01593) in the Australian Capital Territory on 10 April 1989. The office is maintained at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) in Canberra. ANBG provides office space and services, and the facilities of the Australian National Herbarium. Most of the work is done by volunteers. This includes the clerical, record keeping side of cultivar registration and mounting herbarium specimens. The main task at the moment is checking and revising all our records prior to internet publication.

ACRA Application Form

Reasons for using this form:

This new form has been designed to make it easier for applicants to complete their submissions and improve processing efficiency.

The purpose of the form is to gather all the information necessary to develop either:

The fees are $99 for direct payment via Pay Pal or $110 for cheque payment.
The fees charged cover some of the costs of storing and processing herbarium specimens.
Fees are still waived for Australian Native Plant Society Study Groups (ANPS).

The application/submission will not be processed until:

Notes for Cultivar Registration Applicants

Notes for PBR Applicants

ACRA Registration Form – PDF to fill in online.



Who else can register plant names?

ACRA accepts the validity of names approved by the Plant Breeders Rights Office. In this case the name is attached to intellectual property rights vested in the cultivar. Some businesses try to register plant names as a trademark. IP Australia made the following statement in a 1998 Trade Marks Information Pack

"The name of a plant variety cannot be registered as a trade mark because it is the name given to a particular variety of plant. It describes that plant variety and it will be likely to cause confusion if it is used on other varieties of plants. A trade mark, however, indicates a trade source.

If you apply to register a trade mark to cover live plant material you will have to agree, as a condition of registration, to an endorsement that the trade mark will not be used as the name, or part of the name, of a plant variety."

This practice also contravenes the 2004 International Rules of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, as cultivar names have to be universally available for use. The reason for this is to avoid a plant variety acquiring a number of names, as each business gives it a new name in order to avoid a trademark infringement. This would soon become very confusing. Such names are therefore invalid.

IP Australia information on Plant Trade Mark Registration (PDF)

On this site

Some 1800 cultivar names have been recorded for Australian plants (excluding orchids) and the attached list shows those that have been officially registered by the ACRA.

List of Registered Cultivars
Search for cultivar names in the Australian Plant Name Index (APNI)
What is a cultivar?
Guidelines for naming cultivars

Australian Plant Breeders Rights

For further infomation on ACRA, please contact:

The Registrar
Australian Cultivar Registration Authority
Australian National Botanic Gardens
GPO Box 1777
Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: +61 2 6250 9450


Updated 21 February, 2017 ,