Origin of Paul Aden's Registrations
by AHS Cultivar Origination Commission

In April 2012, The American Hosta Society president, Doug Beilstein, appointed the AHS Cultivar Origination Commission with this mission:

Investigate origins of Paul Aden’s registrations and report findings to the International Registrar for the Genus Hosta for modifyingThe Hosta Registry.

Members are Tom Micheletti (Chair), Warren I. Pollock, W. George Schmid and Mark R. Zilis. Tom is AHS Immediate Past President, a member of the AHS Executive Council. Warren and George are the AHS Nomenclature Committee. Warren is a Contributing Editor of The Hosta Journal and The Online Hosta Journal. George, a Hosta species authority, wrote the classic “The Genus Hosta – Gibōshi Zoku” (1991) and frequently contributes articles to the journals. Mark wrote the new classic “The Hostapedia” (2009) and the earlier popular reference, “The Hosta Handbook” (2000). He is president of Q & Z Nursery, Inc., a large hosta tissue-culture propagation facility.

Around the end of last year, AHS people became increasingly aware that Paul Aden, Baldwin, New York, who died in 2010, may have acquired hostas from originators and nurseries, and registered them with his cultivar names.

It is important to note that in the 1970s and ’80s and 1990, when Aden registered many hostas, the registration process required only listing a Registrant with no column or box to list an Originator. Thus the plants registered by Aden could be, but not necessarily were, originated by him. Often they were incorrectly considered to be Paul Aden’s originations.

The Hosta Registrar noted this matter in his prologue in the “2011 Registrations” issue of The Hosta Journal (Vol. 43, R, p. 4), the blue-cover THJ published in the spring. The item, “Controversy Regarding Certain Registered Hostas,” asserts:

…an “*” will be placed by the Registrar, in the space designated for ‘originator’ on all Aden registrations. The “*” is intended to indicate that the origin of this plant is undocumented and is not considered originated by Aden.

The Commission’s task is to supply the Hosta Registrar with needed information on originators of Paul Aden’s registrations to modify The Hosta Registry.

Paul Aden’s name appears in 179 hosta registrations. At this writing 27 have an “*” identification. They include well-known ‘Blue Mammoth’, ‘Blue Seer’, ‘Bright Lights’, ‘Fresh’, ‘Fringe Benefit’, ‘Pixie Power’, ‘Super Bowl’ and ‘Tet-A-Poo’.

At least four hybridizers may have been principal originators of some of Paul Aden’s registrations: Kevin C. Vaughn, Florence N. Shaw, Chet Tompkins and Cynthia Tompkins (Chet’s mother). Mrs. Shaw, who lived in Weston, Massachusetts, and the Tompkinses, who lived in Canby, Oregon, have passed away. Dr. Vaughn now lives in Salem, Oregon, having retired from the USDA’s laboratory in Stoneville, Mississippi, two years ago.

In 2012 Kevin Vaughn received the coveted Eunice Fisher Distinguished Hybridizer Merit Award, selecting ‘Christmas Tree’ as his distinguished hosta. In his acceptance address, published in this Online Hosta Journal (Vol. 43 Online), he states:

Most of his variegated plants were stolen from his mother’s garden.

This occurred in July 1979 when he had his seedlings growing on in his mother’s garden in Athol, Massachusetts, while he was at Miami University in Ohio completing his Ph.D., which he received in 1980. His dissertation was on Hosta genetics. Dr. Vaughn’s acceptance address is a key adjunct to The Commission’s investigations.

Also in this Online Hosta Journal is an article by Bill Meyer, Woodbury, Connecticut, on Paul Aden. A wide-ranging portrait of his persona and horticultural activities, it too was considered in The Commission’s inquiries.

Bill Meyer concludes: “Paul Aden wasn't the man who created the plants that put hostas on the map. He was Hosta’s Talent Scout and Promoter – still a significant role to be sure. The plants he introduced that carry his name should be considered more of a marketing concept rather than a collection from a single hybridizer.” Meyer’s account should be read in conjunction with this report.

The Commission’s investigations are in several phases. To provide background, a comprehensive TIMELINE was developed of important events related to Paul Aden, Kevin Vaughn, Florence Shaw and Chet Tompkins. It’s from the 1960s, when Mrs. Shaw was actively hybridizing hostas and developed her “Birchwood” hostas, to Aden’s death.

Phase 1 comprised 11 hostas Aden registered, including ‘Great Expectations’, registered in 1988; ‘On Stage’, in 1986; and ‘Color Glory’, in 1980.

The Commission concluded that Paul Aden was not the originator of ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘On Stage’. Although he apparently acquired these hostas with the originator’s or nursery’s authorization, each was registered and introduced with Aden’s cultivar name.

Accordingly, The Commission recommended in The Hosta Registry:

John Bond be listed as originator of ‘Great Expectations’.

Asami be listed as originator of ‘On Stage’. Also, a note be added that ‘On Stage’ is the same hosta as ‘Chōkō Nishiki’, originated by Asami and introduced by Gotemba Nursery in Japan.

‘Chōkō Nishiki’ be registered with Asami as Originator, Gotemba Nursery as Introducer and Hosta Registrar as Registrant.

John Bond, a former Keeper of The Savill Garden in U.K., now deceased, found a mediovariegated sport of ‘Elegans’ in his garden in Surrey, and gave Aden a piece to introduce in 1984. Aden registered it as ‘Great Expectations’.

Mr. Asami gave Gotemba Nursery a green-margined yellow-leaved sport of H. montana with variegation becoming greener in the shade as season progresses, called ‘Chōkō Nishiki’ in Japan. It is not registered. In 1981 Aden acquired ‘Chōkō Nishiki’ from this nursery, founded by Kenji Watanabe and still operated by the Watanabe family, and registered and introduced it as ‘On Stage’.

The Commission also concluded that ‘Color Glory’ registered by Paul Aden in 1980 is not ‘Color Glory’ that he introduced in the trade in 1989. H. ‘Color Glory’ in the trade is ‘Borwick Beauty’, a medio-variegated sport of ‘Elegans’ registered in 1988 by the British Hosta and Hemerocallis Society for G. & B. McBurnie. They found this sport in their Borwick, U.K., garden, and gave Aden a piece in 1984 that he claimed died. The ‘Color Glory’ hosta registered in 1980 was not introduced in the trade and is lost.

Accordingly, The Commission recommended in The Hosta Registry:

A note be added to ‘Color Glory’ (P. Aden - 1980) that it is not ‘Color Glory’ in the trade. Also, a note be added to ‘Borwick Beauty’ (G. & B. McBurnie - 1988) that ‘Borwick Beauty’ is the same hosta as ‘Color Glory’ in the trade, but not the same hosta as ‘Color Glory’ registered in 1980.

Eight other hostas were investigated in Phase 1 as possible Kevin Vaughn originations:

  1. Brim Cup’ (registered in 1986)

  2. Fragrant Blue’ (1988)

  3. Fragrant Bouquet’ (1982)

  4. Fringe Benefit’ (2010 by Mark Zilis for Paul Aden)

  5. Grand Master’ (1986)

  6. Pizzazz’ (1986)

  7. So Sweet’ (1986)

  8. Sweetie’ (1988)

The Commission found all are Kevin Vaughn’s originations. Accordingly, it recommended in The Hosta Registry:

Kevin C. Vaughn be listed as originator of these eight cultivars.

In Phase 2 possible Florence Shaw originations were investigated. Hostas were stolen from her garden in 1974 and 1975; she died in 1975. The Commission found 16 to be her originations:

  1. Amy Aden’ (1980)
  2. Big Daddy’ (1976)
  3. Big Mama’ (1976)
  4. Blue Angel’ (1986)
  5. Blue Cadet’ (1974)
  6. Blue Umbrellas’ (1978)
  7. Citation’ (1980)
  8. Fascination’ (1978)
  9. Golden Waffles’ (1976)
  10. Green Wedge’ (1976)
  11. Ground Master’ (1979)
  12. Love Pat’ (1978)
  13. Piecrust Power’ (2010 by Mark Zilis for Paul Aden)
  14. 'Sum and Substance’ (1980)
  15. Vicki Aden’ (1980)
  16. Zounds’ (1978)

Accordingly, The Commission recommended in The Hosta Registry:

Florence N. Shaw be listed as originator of these 16 cultivars.

It should be emphasized that many of Florence Shaw’s plants possibly might never have been introduced, or even known, if not for Paul Aden acquiring and introducing them. Better appreciated now is that she was a foremost, early hosta hybridizer. Paul Aden must be credited for recognizing the important value of Florence Shaw’s, and also Kevin Vaughn’s, originations. Many have become hosta classics.

Phase 3 will investigate possible Chet and Cynthia Tompkins originations, as well as possible other originators. Chet Tompkins gave hostas to Aden in 1978-1982 to introduce that Aden claimed died.

This is a preliminary report by The Commission. The investigation will continue and a final report is slated for the 2013 edition of The Online Hosta Journal.

Origin of Paul Aden's Registrations
by AHS Cultivar Origination Commission

I April 2012, The American Hosta Society president, Doug Beilstein, appointed the AHS Cultivar Origination Commission with this mission:

Investigate origins of Paul Aden’s registrations and report findings to the International Registrar for the Genus Hosta for modifying The Hosta Registry.

The Commission’s first report was published in 2012 issue of The Online Hosta Journal and reprinted in Registration 2012 issue of The Hosta Journal (Vol. 44, No. R, p. 5). The late Florence M. Shaw was credited as originator of 16 hostas, and Kevin C. Vaughn as originator of 8 hostas, registered by the late Paul Aden. Examples are:

H.Blue Angel’ (F. Shaw - 1986),
H.Blue Umbrellas’ (F. Shaw - 1978),
H.Fragrant Blue’ (K. Vaughn - 1988),
H.Fragrant Bouquet’ (K. Vaughn - 1982),
H.Love Pat’ (F. Shaw - 1978),
H.So Sweet’ (K. Vaughn - 1986),
H.Sum and Substance’ (F. Shaw - 1980) and
H.Zounds’ (F. Shaw - (1978).

Parentage of Mrs. Shaw’s and Dr. Vaughn’s hostas was not addressed in the 2012 report. Unfortunately, breeding records are lost and the correct pod and pollen parents cannot be identified. Accordingly, the Commission now has recommended in The Hosta Registry: 

Parentage of Shaw’s and Vaughn’s originations be listed as Selected seedling. Parentages in Aden’s registrations are to be deleted. 

The 2012 report credited “Asami” as originator of H. ‘On Stage’, with a note that ‘On Stage’ is the same hosta as ‘Chōkō Nishiki’. Originator of ‘Chōkō Nishiki’ was possibly thought to be Mr. Hisatoyo Asami of Tokyo, a long-time member of The American Hosta Society. An inquiry to Mr. Hisatoyo Asami determined that though he purchased the hosta around 1980, he was not its discoverer or originator. Furthermore, Mr. Asami does not know who named it. Accordingly, the Commission now has recommended in The Hosta Registry:

Originator of ‘On Stage’ be listed as Unknown.

The Commission continued its investigations of hostas registered by and for Paul Aden in 2013. Findings and recommendations are reported here.

The Hosta Registry lists three (3) Tardianas that Aden registered for the late Eric Smith: H.Blue Moon’ (1976), H.Dorset Blue’ (1977), and H.Harmony’ (1976). In fact, Aden registered five (5) Tardianas for Smith. H. ‘Hadspen Blue’ and ‘Hadspen Heron’ were incorrectly listed in The Hosta Registry with Peter Ruh as registrant. Paul Aden was the actual registrant. (See ‘Hadspen Blue’ and ‘Hadspen Heron’ in Mark Zilis’s The Hostapedia.) Peter Ruh was not involved with hosta registrations in 1976 and 1977. Accordingly, the Commission recommended in The Hosta Registry:

Registrant of ‘Hadspen Blue’ (1977) and ‘Hadspen Heron’ (1977) be corrected and P. Aden be cited as registrant.

Interestingly, the registrations of these Tardianas do not credit Eric Smith as originator. The Commission believed this was an opportune time for correction, and, accordingly, recommended in The Hosta Registry:

E. Smith be recognized as originator of ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Dorset Blue’, ‘Hadspen Blue’, ‘Hadspen Heron’, and ‘Harmony’ in their registrations.

Many Aden registrations have parentage with Aden numbered names, like Aden 365 and [H. ‘Aden 81-B1’ × H. ‘Aden 83-B4’]. They have no physical reality and should be deleted and replaced with Unknown.

On the other hand, some registrations have parentage with proper cultivar and species names. Examples are: 

[H.Blue Tiers× H.Blue Angel’] for H. ‘Big Mama’,
[Hybrid of H. Tardiana Group] for H. Blessings’,
[Sport of H. Amy Aden’] for H.Blonde Elf’,
[Hybrid of H.Tokudama’] for H.Blue Cadet
[Hybrid of H. sieboldiana] for H.Blue Mammoth’.

Likely, some of these parentages are not correct, e.g., ‘Big Mama’, ‘Blessings’, and ‘Blue Cadet’. Still, they have historical significance and should be retained. Accordingly, the Commission recommended in The Hosta Registry:

Except for hostas credited with Shaw and Vaughn as originations, Aden registrations not having proper cultivar or species names for parentage be listed as Parentage Unknown.

Also, the Commission recommended in The Hosta Registry:

Original registration years of Aden registrations be retained, with mention of alteration year.

Nineteen (19) hostas have “Abba” in their cultivar names. This was Paul Aden’s personal identifier and apparently means “father”; in other words, a title of honor. Nine (9) “Abba”-named cultivars were registered by Aden in 1990 and 10 were registered for Aden by Mark Zilis in 2010. The Commission concluded that all “Abba”-named hostas should be credited to Paul Aden. Accordingly, the Commission recommended in The Hosta Registry:

P. Aden be credited as originator of “Abba”-hostas registered in 1990.
P. Aden be retained as originator of "Abba"-hostas registered in 2010.

Following are “Abba”-hostas with recommended parentage.  Those with * already were registered with P. Aden as originator. 

  'Abba Alive'


  'Abba Aloft'

Sport of H. 'Sun Power'

  'Abba at Large'

Sport of H. 'Sun Power'

  'Abba Blue Plus'


*'Abba Diane Reek'


  'Abba Double Header'


  'Abba Fit'


*'Abba Flower Mound'


*'Abba Fragrant Backscratcher'


*'Abba Fragrant Cloud'


*'Abba Irresistible'


  'Abba Little Showoff'


  'Abba Nova'


*'Abba Ready'

Sport of H. 'Invincible'

*'Abba Rough'

Hybrid of H. 'Tokudama'

*'Abba Soul Mate'

Sport of H. 'Halcyon'

  'Abba Spellbinder'


  'Abba Tops'


*'Abba Windows'


Of the more than 100 remaining Paul Aden-registrations in The Hosta Registry, one thing seems certain: many did not originate with Paul. Likely originators could be Florence Shaw, Kevin Vaughn, Cynthia and Chet Tompkins, and Eric Smith, the famous English plantsman. Of course, some likely could be Aden’s own creations. Guesses of possible originators abounded, but there was a paucity of reliable information. Conclusive evidence rarely was available. Thus, additional recommendations were sparse.

These recommendations in the Hosta Registry were made by the Commission:

P. Aden be credited as originator of H.  ‘Shade Fanfare’. It is a sport of ‘Flamboyant’, found in tissue culture.

Chet (Ch.) Tompkins be credited as originator of H.Flamboyant’ and H.Floradora Parentage of both is Unknown.

Though it is not an Aden registration, H.Antioch’, registered by Peter Ruh and Paul Hofer, was included in the Commission’s discussion. Pete Ruh has determined that Cynthia Tompkins originated this hosta; see information in The Hostapedia, p. 76. Accordingly, the Commission recommended in The Hosta Registry:

Cynthia (Cy.) Tompkins be credited as originator of H. ‘Antioch’. Parentage is Unknown. P. Ruh and P. Hofer remain credited as nominants and registrants.

Having completed its mission, the Commission submitted this final report to the Hosta Registrar on October 8, 2013.  

AHS Cultivar Origination Commission

            Tom Micheletti, Chair
            Warren I. Pollock
            W. George Schmid
            Mark R. Zilis

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