Tulipa fosteriana

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@starpower.net
Fri, 20 Feb 2004 12:19:33 PST
First of all, is anyone still calling this Tulipa fosterana? I understand
why someone with a refined sense of euphony would prefer fosterana to
fosteriana, but which is the currently "correct" spelling?

There are some puzzles about this plant which raise doubts for me. One is
the connection between the names Red Emperor and Madame Lefeber. These
names are often treated as synonyms. But is that correct? Because Red
Emperor was collected in 1904,  it comes as a surprise to read that Madame
Lefeber was  "Raised in 1931 by Dirk Lefeber..."(Anna Pavord, The Tulip; I
have the tenth printing of the first edition - plenty of time, one would
think, to fix errors). A qoute given below suggests that the name Red
Emperor was in use well before that time. 

I realize that until the late '20's, tulip names had no official registrar.
Whenever I see a tulip name with a date around 1930, I am cautious about
jumping to the assumption that the tulip in question was in fact raised at
that time - it and its name may have existed for who knows how long before
being officially registered. But Pavord clearly says "raised" in 1931.

And that makes me wonder if she knows something that I don't: are Red
Emperor and Madame Lefeber distinct clones? 

My scepticism is fed by a passage from J M C Hoog quoted by Pavord.  Was
the original Red Emperor a clone or a group of similar wild collected
plants? Does there (or did there) exist somewhere a sexually reproducing
population which corresponds to what we know as Red Emperor? Evidently,
what we know as Red Emperor is not typical (typical in the layman's sense)
of most wild Tulipa fosteriana. Is it a naturally occuring hybrid? 

Pavord quotes ( The Tulip, p. 305) Hoog (sometime after 1914 but otherwise
undated)  as saying:

"J M C Hoog of Van Tubergen remembered that 'he [Joseph Haberhauer, the
collector] lived in Samarkand and was the man to whom we owe the
magnificent tulip which to honour Sir Michael Foster I called T.
fosteriana. He collected these in 1904 in the mountains near Samarkand, and
I twice got important quantities. It is curious that the splendid variety
which I called 'Red Emperor' only appeared in the first importation, not

That Hoog did not call Red Emperor a clone is not surprising: according to
the OED, the word clone was just coming into use at about the turn of the
century.  But what did Hoog mean in calling it a variety? Was there only
one original plant? Or was that first importation made up completely or in
part of what he called Red Emperor? Was Hoog's Red Emperor non-clonal? Was
Madame Lefeber named to identify one particular clone of an origianlly
non-clonal Red Emperor group? 

Any thoughts?

Jim McKenney

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