Tupila batalinii & linifolia

Antennaria@aol.com Antennaria@aol.com
Thu, 22 Jan 2004 10:17:55 PST
It was written:

>Tulipa batalini has made more than one 
>list from more than one area. It was 
>on my list. John has pointed out that 
>it really is a clone of Tulipa 
>linifolia. We probably need to fix that 
>on the wiki. Do you have a suggestion 
>John for how we can write it to 
>distinguish between the beautiful red 
>flowered ones and the ones you can 
>still buy commercially as T. batalini 
>with all the shades of yellow? Would 
>it just be Tulipa linifolia (yellow 
>clone often referred to as T. batalini)?

It is my understanding that Tulipa batalinii and T. linifolia are two separate species, taxonomically recognized as such, and are quite distinct and easily recognized. Granted, Tulipa taxonomy is a mess, but perhaps no more a mess than most other genera.

I'd doing the combination Alpine-L /PBS topic of the week for in Febraury, on Dwarf Tulipa, so I hesitate to open up a big discussion on this now and dilute the topic too early on. But I will offer some bits of info:

1.  A useful recent publication (albeit in Czech) is a taxonomic paper by Petrova E. Faberovai, Descriptor List - Genus Tulipa L., published in 2000.  The PDF accessed from the link below, while in Czech, has pages 18-20 in English, with the latest enumeration of species and synonyms, a blurb on taxonomy, and a short bibliography.  Since I can't read the rest, I can only conjecture that a portion of the species is listed here, not the entire genus of ~150 species.  In this paper, the two species in question are listed as two separate species.


2.  Another good source is the Hoog and Dix website:
Click on Descriptive Catalog, then on Tulipa. This firm is directly responsible for many of the old, now famous bulb selections, along with Van Tubergen.  The listing of species is fairly exhaustive, with brief history on each, and it's a valuable resource in own right.

3.  I think the linifolia confusion comes from the fact, at least one of the cultivars of T. batalinii, namely 'Bronze Charm', reputedly derived from a cross with T. linifolia and introduced by Van Tubergen.  Many of the other cultivars derived from "sports" in cultivation, or garden pollinated seed.  Thus batalinii has a reputation of not being "pure" these days, but some specialty dealers sell the pure species and advertise it as so.

4.  Tulipa linifolia is a quite well known and distinctive species. When the flowers open out flat, the tepals are so wide that the form a stunning rotate flower, yet with the ends of the fat tepals abruptly contracted to a fine pointy tip... unmistakeable.  It's also always startling because of the shiny brilliant red flower color, with jet black center. Tulipa batalinii on the other hand has yellow flowers (apparently somewhat variable shades of yellow in the wild), with upright cup-shaped or open lily-flowered blooms.  They look VERY different.

For these reasons, I think the wiki images on these two species should rename unchanged, although I will add to my photos of batalinii 'Bronze Charm' that there is probably some linifolia blood in that cultivar. 

Mark McDonough        
Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States  
"New England", near New Hampshire  
USDA Zone 5
website: http://www.plantbuzz.com/
alliums, bulbs, penstemons, hardy hibiscus, 
western american alpines, iris, plants of all 

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