In discussing Tulipa saxatilis and Tulipa bakeri Lilac Wonder, Mark McDonough said: >The two species are regarded as quite distinct... And he is quite right. But regarded so by whom, and why? As garden plants they certainly are distinct. But are they "two species"? That's where it gets interesting. And if you read on, perhaps you will emerge with a different opinion. A brief layperson's glossary is provided at the end to help keep everyone up to speed in this discussion. The name Tulipa saxatilis was originally used for a triploid tulip. Triploids do not form sexually reproducing populations. They cannot be true species; there has to be more to the picture. Tulipa cretica and Tulipa bakeri are the likely candidates for consideration as the source of T. saxatilis. For purposes of discussion, let's assume that it was T. bakeri. T. bakeri was named later than T. saxatilis. That means that if T. saxatilis is regarded as a triploid form of T. bakeri, the name for the aggregate becomes T. saxatilis. It's a case of the rules of nomenclature requiring that the tail (triploid, nominal species Tulipa saxatilis) wag the dog (diploid sexually reproducing species T. bakeri). If evidence should arise showing that T. saxatilis has some other origin, then the entire picture changes. For those of you who do not have a technical background yet want to understand what this is all about, here are some informal definitions: diploid: with two sets of chromosomes, one from each parent triploid: with an extra set of chromosomes. The term "sterile triploid" is virtually a cliche, but it is an inaccurate one; triploids can and do set viable seed under the right conditions. sexually reproducing populations: for purposes of this discussion, true species. nominal species: species in name only, not really true species; in the bad old days, taxonomists named everything in sight before they really knew enough about the biology of the entity in question. Familiar examples of nominal species are Lycoris squamigera, Lilium lancifolium, Hemerocallis fulva and Crocus sativus. Jim McKenney firstname.lastname@example.org Montgomery County, Maryland zone 7 where foliage of Tulipa saxatilis planted in early December is just emerging.