Weedy Tulips - T. clusiana

Barbara McMullen enna1921@live.ca
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 17:17:59 PDT

Barbara McMullen, Hamilton, Ontario, Zone 5 (officially but we can grow Zone 
6 if below the escarpment).  And unfortunately, though the snow is gone, 
nothing is growing yet.

-----Original Message----- 
From: Jim McKenney
Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2015 2:06 PM
To: Pacific Bulb Society
Subject: Re: [pbs] Weedy Tulips - T. clusiana

If you have come to tulips only within the last ten or twenty  years or so, 
what follows might help you to put the name Tulipa clusiana into context. In 
short, the botanical name Tulipa clusiana does not mean the same thing now 
that it meant as recently as twenty or thirty years ago.
Jim Waddick's plaint about the lack of a stoloniferous nature in his Tulipa 
clusiana is probably explained by his plants not being the Tulipa clusiana 
of the pre-twenty-first century literature.
From the time of Clusius in the late sixteenth century until late in the 
twentieth century, the plant which acquired the botanical name Tulipa 
clusiana was one of the most widely grown and loved small tulips. It was 
well known for being stoloniferous and for rarely setting seed (it was 
eventually discovered to be a pentaploid). Even in the early twentieth 
century, when very few wild or species tulips were listed in catalogs, it 
was offered.
Sometime in the late twentieth century this plant began to disappear from 
catalogs - or perhaps a better way of saying that is that although the name 
persisted in catalogs, the plant sent out under that name was a look-alike 
something else. At the same time, revisions in the taxonomy of tulips began 
to associate formerly disparate names with the name Tulipa clusiana. For 
instance, the tulip long known and grown as Tulipa stellata   came to be 
listed as a Tulipa clusiana variant.  And Tulipa stellata chrysantha (which 
has yellow and red flowers) also became a Tulipa clusiana variant.  This, by 
the way, is a very stoloniferous tulip and should be tried by those who want 
that quality. It's currently sold under the name Tulipa clusiana chrysantha. 
If you are researching it in older books, look for Tulipa chrysantha or 
Tulipa stellata chrysantha. Keep in mind that the true, original clone of 
Tulipa clusiana of gardens is not a true species in the modern sense (i.e. 
it is unknown in the wild as a sexually reproducing population). However, it 
is obviously very closely related to and presumably derived from one of the 
other tulips which modern taxonomists include under the name Tulipa clusiana 
in the contemporary sense (a likely candidate for the source of the 
pentaploid original clone of Tulipa clusiana is the plant once known as 
Tulipa stellata but not the form known as T. stellata chrysantha).  And as 
the earliest named of these tulips, its name becomes the name for the entire 
group (the species name for the entire group) in terms of modern botanical 
Modern look-alike clones include 'Peppermint Stick' and  'Lady Jane'; 
similar to these but distinguished by pale yellow (instead of white) inner 
petals is 'Cynthia'. I've grown all of these (if the names of my supplier 
can be believed) and have not noticed any of them to be noticeably 
stoloniferous. They do persist well under my conditions.
The true, original clone of Tulipa clusiana of gardens has a distinctive 
growth habit: it forms flat rosettes of short gray-green leaves with a red 
edge; these leaves lie flat on the ground when they appear and (but don't 
hold me to the timing of this part) go through the winter in that state. 
When the stems elongate in the spring, they take some of the leaves with 
them.  If you're in an old garden in late winter and see such flat rosettes 
about four inches in diameter, you might have stumbled on the true, original 
clone of Tulipa clusiana. My very few plants were acquired when a friend was 
showing me around her old garden, and I spotted the leaf rosettes: luckily 
for me she let me dig a few.
Jim McKenneyMontgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where we had a 
nasty drop into the 20s last night and this morning: after that, even the 
snowdrops look drunk.

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