Tulips

Gesner's Tulip Gesner's Tulip Gesner's Tulip Gesner's Tulip

What are they?

Tulips are among the best known and most widely planted members of the lily family. Their brilliantly coloured flowers arise in spring from an underground bulb and come in a bewildering array of colours. The typical tulip of gardens (often called 'Dutch Tulip') is most commonly used in amenity bedding schemes, but other, mostly smaller, species are also cultivated. The flowers have six tepals which may be carried in the classic, upight, tulip shape, or they may have narrower tepals that open out to form a star shape. The vast majority of tulip species originate from the Balkans westward to western Asia, especially Turkey.

Where are they found?

As cultivated plants, tulips are most likely to be found in urban or suburban environments, including parks, roadsides and churchyards.

Identification

The species included here are fairly easy to identify from details of flower colour and shape, coupled with details of the leaves.



Gesner's Tulip      Tulipa gesneriana

Introduced as a garden plant from a number of locations and now a plant of uncertain origin. Abundantly planted in a wide range of colours and most 'classic tulips' are likely to have originated from this species through selective breeding. Flowers April to May. Usually a tall species, to 60cm in height with relatively long and broad, slightly glaucous leaves. Flowers may be almost any colour, single or double-petalled, one colour or multicoloured, although typical plants are red, with or without a yellow or black and yellow blotch at the petal bases. Some varieties have the tepals drawn out into pointed tips that spread apart as the flower matures.

Gesner's Tulip Gesner's Tulip Gesner's Tulip Gesner's Tulip
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Gesner's Tulip Gesner's Tulip Gesner's Tulip Gesner's Tulip
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Greig's Tulip      Tulipa greigii

Introduced as a garden plant from Central Asia. Quite widely grown in gardens and occasionally found surviving from old plantings, especially in churchyards and cemeteries. Flowers April to May. Grows to 20-45cm in height with relatively broad, wavy-edged leaves that have purplish streaks on them. Flowers red or yellow with the cultivar 'Red Riding Hood', with brilliant red flowers, being commonly planted. Modern varieties with flowers of other colours are probably mostly hybrids with other species.

Greig's Tulip Greig's Tulip Greig's Tulip Greig's Tulip
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Cretan Tulip      Tulipa saxatilis

Introduced as a garden plant from Crete. Occasionally grown in churchyards and gardens, from where it might spread. Found on cliffs in Northeast Norfolk in 2020. Flowers April to May. Grows to 15-45cm in height with narrow, light-green leaves. Flowers pink with a yellow centre and narrow tepals.

Cretan Tulip Cretan Tulip Cretan Tulip Cretan Tulip
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Wood Tulip      Tulipa sylvestris

(Wild Tulip) Introduced as a garden plant from mainland Europe since at least Tudor times and formerly established at a number of locations where originally planted. However, populations do not appear to do well in the UK and the species persists in only a handful of locations in shady churchyards and old grasslands. Flowers April to May. Grows to 15-45cm in height with relatively narrow, strap-like leaves. Flowers yellow and usually nodding to one side. Most years, many plants produce leaves and no flowers.

Wood Tulip Wood Tulip Wood Tulip Wood Tulip
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