Hosta 'American Icon'

According to the U.S. government, a new Hosta cultivar is an "invention". Therefore, it is eligible to receive a patent, just like Edison's electric light bulb. In the case of hostas and other plants, a patent means that for the next 20 years, nobody may propagate and sell this cultivar without providing compensation to the owner of the patent. This is a different process than registering a Hosta with The American Hosta Society.

The application for a patent must include a tremendous amount of information about the plant. Measurements of every conceivable part of the plant are given in metric terms. The color of all plant tissues are given in terms of representations on the Royal Horticultural Society Colour Chart (RHS).

Shown below is the extensive patent information for this cultivar as it was listed on


The present invention, Hosta American Icon’, relates to a new and distinct cultivar of Hosta, botanically known as a Hosta hybrid, hereinafter referred to as 'American Icon'.

The inventor discovered the new cultivar, 'American Icon’, in summer of 1999 in a tissue culture lab in Waseca, Minnesota. 'American Icon' originated as a naturally-occurring sport of Hosta Choo Choo Train' (unpatented). The parent plant, Hosta 'Choo Choo Train’, is non-variegated with yellow-green foliage. 'American Icon' is unique in having foliage with yellow-green margins surrounding green centers.

Asexual reproduction of the new cultivar was first accomplished by the inventor utilizing in vitro propagation in Waseca, Minnesota. in fall of 2002. Asexual reproduction of the new cultivar by division and tissue culture has shown that the unique features of 'American Icon' are stable and reproduced true to type in successive generations.


The following traits have been repeatedly observed in trials in Minnesota for a period of six years and represent the characteristics of the new cultivar. These attributes in combination distinguish 'American Icon' as a new and unique cultivar of Hosta.

o    1. The foliage of 'American Icon' is variegated with yellow-green margins and green centers, with margin width ranging from 3 to 7 cm (2.8 in.) . The margins comprise about one third of the leaf area. The foliage of the parent plant, 'Choo Choo Train’, is non-variegated with yellow-green foliage.

o    2. 'American Icon' has large, broad leaves with mounded plant habit.

o    3. 'American Icon' reaches a height of about 56 cm (22 in.), exclusive of flower scapes, and a spread of about 157 cm (62 in.) in six years.

o    4. 'American Icon' has large leaves with undulating margins when mature.

o    5. 'American Icon' blooms in early to mid summer with pale lavender flowers that arise above the foliage.

The closest comparison plant is 'Journey's End’, a sibling of 'American Icon’, which differs in having leaves with the reverse variegation pattern to 'American Icon’; yellow green centers and green margins. 'American Icon' can also be compared to 'Satisfaction' (not patented), a plant of similar stature and leaf variegation pattern. 'Satisfaction' is a chimeral mutation of golden foliaged 'Piedmont Gold' (not patented). 'Satisfaction' differs from 'American Icon' in having less ruffled leaf margins and by emerging earlier in the spring resulting in susceptibility to frost damage, particularly in the Southern regions of the U.S.


The accompanying colored photographs illustrate the overall appearance and distinct characteristics of the new Hosta. The photographs were taken in June of mature plants of 'American Icon' and 'Choo Choo Train' as grown outdoors in Waseca, Minnesota. under the same conditions for six years.

FIG. 1 provides an overall view of the foliage and plant habit of the new cultivar, 'American Icon'.

The photograph in FIG. 2 provides a comparison between a leaf of 'American Icon' (shown on left) and 'Choo Choo Train' (shown on right) as grown in medium shade.

The colors in the photographs are as close as possible with the photographic and printing technology utilized and combined with the color values cited in the DETAILED BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION accurately describe the colors of the new Hosta.


The following is a detailed description of six year-old plants of the new cultivar as grown outdoors in Waseca, Minnesota. The phenotype of the new cultivar may vary with variations in environmental, climatic, and cultural conditions, as it has not been tested under all possible environmental conditions. The color determination is in accordance with the 2001 The Royal Horticultural Society Colour Chart, London, England, except where general color terms of ordinary dictionary significance are used.

 + Botanical Classification: 'American Icon' is a cultivar of Hosta of hybrid origin.

+ Parentage:
Naturally occurring sport of Hosta 'Choo Choo Train' (not patented).

+ General description:

§  Blooming period. About 4 weeks from mid June to mid July.

§  Plant habit. Herbaceous perennial, clump-forming, mounded habit of large, broad leaves.

§  Height and spread. Reaches about 56 cm (22 in.) in height (excluding flower scapes) and about 157 cm (62 in.) in width.

§  Hardiness. U.S.D.A. Zones 3 to 8.

§  Culture. Light to full shade, moist soils of moderate fertility.

§  Diseases and pests. Average substance confers some resistance to slugs. No susceptibility or resistance to diseases or other pests has been observed for 'American Icon'.

§  Root description. Freely branched, fleshy.

§  Propagation: In vitro propagation is the preferred method utilizing typical methods for Hosta, division are also possible.

§  Root development. Rooted transplants from tissue culture fully develop in a 96-cell liner in about 6 to 8 weeks in a greenhouse with average temperatures of about 70° F.

§  Growth rate. Vigorous.

+ Foliage description:

§  Leaf shape. Broadly ovate.

§  Leaf division. Simple.

§  Leaf base. Cordate.

§  Leaf apex. Cuspidate.

§  Leaf venation: 14 pairs of veins, camptodrome pattern, impressed on upper surface and raised on lower surface, color matches leaf coloration.

§  Leaf margins. Entire, slightly rippled on mature leaves.

§  Leaf attachment. Petiolate.

§  Leaf arrangement. Basal, radiate spirally from base.

§  Leaf surface. Glabrous (upper and lower surface).

§  Leaf substance. Average.

§  Leaf orientation. Held horizontal on upright petioles.

§  Leaf color. Emerging and mature foliage, upper surface; centers 137B, margins range from 144B to 144C, no significant intermediate area between the margins and centers, lower surface; centers 191A, margins 138B, no significant intermediate area between the margins and centers.

§  Leaf variegation pattern. Margins about 3 to 7 cm (2.8 in.) in width, comprising at least one third of the leaf area.

§  Leaf size. About 30 cm (11.8 in.) in length, about 22 cm (8.7 in.) in width.

§  Leaf quantity. About 5 to 7 per shoot (eye).

§  Petiole size. About 46 mm in length, about 1.4 cm (0.6 in.) in width.

§  Petiole color. Inner surface 138B, outer surface 138C.

§  Petiole surface. Glabrous.

§  Petiole shape. Sulcate.

 + Flower scape description:      

§  Scape shape. Round, solid.

§  Scape number. One per mature eye under normal growing conditions.

§  Scape posture. Straight, held upright at about 80 to 90° from horizontal.

§  Scape size. About 76 cm in length, about 1.0 cm (0.4 in.) in width.

§  Scape color: 146C.

§  Scape surface. Glabrous.

§  Leaf bracts. None observed.

+ Flower description:

§  Inflorescence type. Terminal racemes of single bell-shaped flowers on elongated scapes.

§  Lastingness of inflorescence. About 4 weeks from first opening bloom to fading of last opening bloom, individual blooms last about one week.

§  Flower shape. Bell-shaped.

§  Flower number: 30 to 40.

§  Flower internode length. About 4.0 cm (1.6 in.) .

§  Flower fragrance. None detected.

§  Flower bud shape. Spathulate.

§  Flower bud size. About 3 cm (1.2 in.) in length and 1.3 cm (1.2 in.) in diameter.

§  Flower bud color. Emerges 92D, matures to 91D prior to opening.

§  Flower size. About 5.5 cm (2.1 in.) in length and about 3 cm (1.2 in.) in diameter.

§  Flower color: 92D (violet-blue), slightly lighter.

§  Pedicels. About 1.0 cm (0.4 in.) in length, 2 mm in diameter, 148D in color.

§  Perianth features. Comprised of 6 tepals, 3 interior and 3 exterior, overlapping in expanded region and fused in tube region.

§  Tepal shape. Oblanceolate.

§  Tepal size. About 5 cm (2 in.) in length, about 1.0 cm (0.4 in.) in width.

§  Tepal color. Outer and inner surfaces 92D (slightly lighter), inner stripe about 1 to 2 mm in width of 76B.

§  Tepal texture. Glabrous.

§  Tepal margin. Entire.

§  Tepal base. Cuneate and fused.

§  Tepal apex. Acute.

§  Floral bracts: 1 per flower, ovate in shape, glabrous surface, 14C in color, up to 3.5 cm (1.4 in.) in length and 1.0 cm (0.4 in.) in width.

§         Reproductive organs:

§  Gynoecium: 1 Pistil, style is about 1.0 cm (0.4 in.) in length, 3 mm in width and 8D in color, stigma is 3-lobed and 8D in color, ovary is superior, compound, composed of 3 locules, 146D in color.

§  Androecium: 6 stamens, filament is 8D in color, 5 cm (2 in.) in length, 1 mm in width, length is slightly shorter than perianth, anthers are 3 mm in length, 1 mm in width, attachment is versatile, 202A in color, dehiscence is longitudinal, pollen is abundant and 15B in color.

§  Fruit. Capsule, 3-chambered, about 4.0 cm (1.6 in.) in length, 8 mm in width, 138A in color.

§  Seeds: 25 to 30 seeds per capsule, about 5 to 6 mm in length and 3 mm in width, 202A in color.

RHS Colour Chart - The Royal Horticultural Society in the United Kingdom has produced a color tool that resembles a paint chart with over 920 samples. It is used by horticulturists around the world to identify colors of flowers, fruits and plant parts in order to bring a level of consistency. Each color has its own unique name along with a number and letter code.

Copyright© 2000 -