Tulipa forum: The best article I ever read about tulipa

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Apr 21, 2011 11:15 AM CST
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Delivered to The Chicago Literary Club

May l2, l997


Such a title could be directly interpreted as a bent tool such as a tire wrench or a screw driver designed to work around corners, but here the umlaut over the "u" gives the word away as foreign, probably with a Germanic origin. The title of this paper could have been Thonlyban, Dubbend, Toliban, Tulipan, or Lale in place of Tulbend. They are all, except for the last, somewhat different interpretations of the Persian word for turban or head covering. That of course opens up various possible subjects which include textiles and the effect of sun protection on human physiology, or of fleas that like to live under turbans. However I will not pursue those thematic directions. Instead imagine a plump beautifully colored flower at the top of a tall thin stalk seen by a Persian and realize that he or she was reminded of a countryman wearing a beautiful turban on his head. Tulips in Persia, Turkey and Greece are known as Lale.

In fact wild tulips have a wide natural habitat occupying mountain slopes in Persia and extending west north and south of the Mediterranean Sea to Portugal and the Atlas Mountains. They are found to the east all the way to China and Japan. They are plants whose evolution has led to the special ability to grow in the moist spring and then withstand a hot dry summer followed by a freezing cold winter. The first hybrids were probably developed by the gardeners of the early agricultural tribes of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

It would have been much more romantic if tulips had been named by the Greeks who did name daffodils. This flower got its name from the story about the river god Cephissus who fathered a handsome and gallant but vain son named Narcissus. The goddess Echo fell in love with Narcissus, but he remained inexcusably indifferent to her affection; she died of grief from her unsatisfied love. Narcissus was then punished by being required to drink from a special pond where he became so infatuated by his own image that he also pined away and died. The gods then transformed him into a flower which we now call Narcissus.

From Persia hybrid tulips were grown throughout the Middle East and were cultivated in and around Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in the middle of the sixteenth century. An Austrian ambassador named Busbeguins sent by Ferdinand the First to the Ottoman Turkish empire in 1554 observed many strange new flowers near Adrianople, close to Constantinople. He understood the name to be Tulbend as locals were apparently describing the flower shape to him. He brought home to Vienna some tulip seeds and bulbs, planted them and soon had tulips in Europe. It takes up to ten years for tulip seeds to grow a large enough tulip bulb to flower. Busbeguins said his tulip flowers were not fragrant. Conrad Gesner, a contemporary Austrian, claims to have first seen tulips growing in Hewart's garden in Augsburg, Austria in 1559, but Gesner claimed his observation was of highly fragrant tulips, so either there were two nearly simultaneous importations of tulips from the Near East to Austria or the observers' noses were not in synchrony. Gesner went on to become a noted early cultivator of yellow tulips and was honored by having this group called Gesneriana, the main group of garden tulips we know today.

A little later a Belgian merchant, Clusius, received a bolt of cloth from Constantinople in which were found some unknown bulbs. Believing them to be onions he cooked most of them and ate them with vinegar and oil. He did, however, plant a few in his garden where they were forgotten until they bloomed. A visiting merchant noted their novel beauty and started the long felt enthusiasm for tulips in western Europe.

Omar Khayyam in 1123 and Hafiz in 1390 described tulips in the Persian literature. Carolus Clusius sent tulips from Belgium to England where they were first described in English by Doduens in 1578. The first tulip illustration was printed in a text published in 1565 and was listed under narcissus.

By sixteen hundred tulips had conquered Europe and were being grown in many gardens. All were members of the single group Gesnerianae (garden tulips), with seven species which had come from many generations of hybridizing in the Middle East. In hind sight these tulips had been developed to have large single flowers on tall stalks and their breeding had also emphasized productivity of large daughter bulbs for increased sale and planting the following year. Because of this extended period of hybridizing before introduction into Europe, it is impossible now to recognize which wild tulips were the genetic ancestors of the garden tulips of today. In garden tulips there is considerable diversity both in color, flower shape, and time of blooming.

Now let us describe some tulip anatomy and physiology, and how it changes throughout a typical year. A tulip bulb is a sphere with a slightly flattened bottom and a somewhat pointed top often with a more pronounced flattening on one side. The bulb is covered by a papery dry brown tunic which is easily fractured. Beneath the tunic the main bulk of the bulb is made up of four to five fleshy scales which are bulging cylinders attached at the bottom to the base plate and with a small opening at the top of each scale for the blossom stem and leaves to grow up through. Centrally in the space inside the central scale is the tiny stem attached to the base plate below, carrying a flat vegetative apex at the top of the stem. This shoot within the bulb starts developing after spring die back and takes 30 days to form all the embryonic primordia for the next year's flower and leaves. Any damage at this time to the central part of the bulb will obliterate next year's plant and flower. The bulb wants warmth and dryness. Remember it came from long evolution in the warm dry summer climate of the Middle East so the papery tunic helps hold moisture inside and warmth allows the embryonic stem, leaves, and flower within to develop. Too much moisture around a tulip bulb will allow fungus growth which might damage or destroy the bulb.

Most mature bulbs are dug, sold and transported in late summer. Immature bulblets should be left in the ground or replanted in a fertile spot for further growth and enlargement. Such bulblets will only grow one leaf the following spring using the energy from that leaf to increase the number and size of bulb scales until the bulb is fully grown, which takes from two to ten years. Young bulblets are rounder, have a tattered tip, and are called "pears" or "maiden bulbs". Only when large enough will the bulb generate a multileafed stalk and a flower.

After the bulbs have been sold, bought, handled gently, and transported they are ready to be planted for the next growing season. This ideally is in early November in England but can be middle of October to middle November here. Tulips can be planted later than daffodils. Tulip bulbs should be planted 2 - 3 times bulb height deep in well drained nutritious soil. The bulb's most serious enemy is fungus. This is why well drained soil or placing the bulb in a clump of sand when planting is necessary. Another concern is herbivorous mammals which dig down and eat the bulbs. To protect against the former and the latter, dusting the bulbs with sulfur discourages fungi and squirrels, but to prevent eating, a wire fence buried above the bulbs with large enough holes for the shoots to grow up through, but small enough to prevent digging down to the buried bulbs, is effective. Now the residual warmth of the soil and the increased moisture will allow the bulb to grow roots down from its base plate into the soil around and beneath the bulb. Roots like an alkaline soil. Approximately 50 tubular non-branching roots are generated. Larger bulbs produce greater numbers of roots which can extend down and out to a maximum of 32 inches. Each root is two millimeters in diameter and has no root hairs so all absorption comes through the root surface. Roots need aeration so water logged or compacted earth has a strong negative effect. Bulbs at this root growing stage may also grow thicker tubular down growths called "droppers" or stolonipherous tubes. These extensions form a small bulblet at their distal end allowing vegetative reproduction to move away from the parent bulb. Tulip species with abnormally tripled or quadrupled chromosome numbers have difficulty reproducing sexually and produce more "droppers" in order to spread the species geographically.

As the late fall goes on into winter the tulip enters its required cold period. As you now know, tulips evolved on hill and mountain sides in the Middle East where a cold period in winter was the usual environment. Tulips are present up to 12,000 feet in the Himalayas. This cold period should maximally be just above freezing, but can go down well below freezing, for at least 10-12 weeks and may extend to 30 weeks. During this period the whole plant is relatively dormant except for early extension growth of the future stem inside the bulb. Also at this time daughter bulbs form at the junction of fleshy scales and the base plate. The largest is at the base of the stem and the most advanced is at the base of the outer scale. If bulb and roots are not given a cold period there will be no blossom the following spring and if the pre-rooted bulb is treated with elevated temperature "blindstoken" the future flower is killed and the spring plant puts all its energy into daughter bulbs increasing large bulb production. One can force tulips almost any time of the year by just keeping bulbs in a pot below freezing after root growth until 6 - 8 weeks before wished-for flowering time. Then they should be slowly warmed and given good light to get forced flowers. If the cold period is too short or not cold enough, stem growth will be inhibited and resulting flowers will be short, almost in the leaves, and not very high above the ground.

Slowly rising ground temperatures in early spring stimulate greater stem elongation pushing the enlarging leaves and flower bud out of the bulb apex and up through the soil to the ground surface. Continued warmth stimulates the plant hormone gibberellin generated in the growing leaves to stimulate further internode elongation of the stem. It also increases auxin production at the stem apex which stimulates further flower growth from primordial structures present since the previous summer. In this way a tall graceful stalk supporting three to six leaves develops. Leaf size is increased by cool spring temperatures and strong sun light. The nourishment for the growing stem, leaves, and bud comes from stored starch and sugars in the fleshy scales of the bulb. Tall stems and big flowers come from big bulbs. Much of the tulip hybridizing effort which has gone on since long before Christ has focused on producing taller stems with big single clear bright colored flowers.

The tulip flower has a quite simple anatomy. There are three outer perianth petals and three offset inner perianth petals representing the entire showy part of the flower. This part of the flower can be up to 3-4 inches tall and 3-4 inches in diameter. These perianth petals can have quite specialized shapes and considerable variation in color. At the inner bases of the perianth petals the flower contains six filaments with anthers attached at the top, covered by pollen grains showing different colors. In the central position coming up from the top of the stem is the ovary and pistil. The ovary is made up of three fused cylinders supporting a variably shaped stigmatic surface at the top with fringed edges and a sticky surface at maturity to attract pollen. Tulip flowers are diecious meaning they have both male and female functions in sexual reproduction, but the pollen grains (male) mature first and only later does the stigmatic surface (female) become receptive to pollen so a flower does not fertilize itself.

If the flower is pollinated each fused cylinder of the ovary develops double vertical rows of brown flat triangular seeds. These mature seeds when planted one half inch deep will form an "epigeal" sprout pushing the seed case up out of the ground while forming a tiny bulblet below ground level. This bulblet is similar to a small daughter bulb formed vegetatively from a parent bulb, but this seed bulblet contains genetic material from both its parents; it is not an exact duplication of the mother bulb's genetics as in vegetative reproduction. From the gardener's point of view, the most difficult feature of sexual reproduction is the prolonged time needed to nurture the offspring up to a size which will flower before you can finally see what you have accomplished. In a normal human life time a tulip breeder can only generate a relatively few columnar breedings towards a planned genetic goal.

All the time the leaves are out they are photosynthesizing and generating sugars and starch. The smaller upper stem leaves put their energy stores in the upper stem and flower while the lower larger leaves put their energy stores directly into the daughter bulbs down under ground. This photosynthesis occurs best in the moist cool spring with lots of good sunshine. When the sun's rays have raised the air and soil temperature high enough, it is the signal to the tulip plant that the hot dry Middle East summer is coming and the above ground plant goes into senescence with the remaining flower parts, leaves, and stem drying up and sending all their stored energy into the daughter bulbs below. Whatever stores are still left in the mother bulb's fleshy scales are now diverted into the daughter bulb or bulbs. All that is left are seeds if the flower was fertilized and daughter bulbs in the ground. These daughter bulbs are what are dug to sell and plant at the end of the summer. To generate maximum bulb production heat treatment to prevent flower formation would be helpful, but one would then get only one leaf which is not maximal leaf area. Another better system, but more difficult, would be to stimulate full growth of maximally sized spring plants, and then hold the temperature below the level which starts plant senescence and keep strong sun light coming so plants will then generate maximum energy stores meaning larger bulbs. Unfortunately this environmental control would require a large greenhouse with expensive air conditioning.

Classification of tulips is a sticky wicket. Subgroupings have been developed around blooming times, flower color, flower shapes, minor anatomical differences, and different geography of origin. Sometimes there are combinations of the above criteria. In 1966 Petrova and Silina described 5544 modern varieties of which 3454 were of commercial importance. By 1968 Schouten had reduced the number to 614 using chromosome morphology as a major differentiating factor. Most tulips are genetically diploid with 24 chromosomes. Some are triploid with half again more chromosomes and a few are tetraploid with 48 chromosomes. The tulips with more chromosomes tend to have larger plants and larger flowers, but have great difficulty with sexual reproduction. The most straight forward classification has been presented by Sir Daniel Hall, an English botanist who in a 1941 Royal Horticultural Society publication described 76 groups based on plant morphology, flowering season, and chromosome analysis. Of these 76 the seven Gesnerianae (garden tulips) and the eight early Eichleres tulips are the vast majority of those cultivated. Most of the rest are rarely cultivated except by experts or are found wild. Dried specimens are not sufficient for classification because fine anatomic details are lost and genetic studies cannot be carried out.

Towards the end of the last century there were only a few wild types of small red and yellow tulips and the garden tulips hybridized in ancient times. Between 1870 and 1914, however, a Mr. Moog of the Dutch van Tubergen firm supported a group of German plant collectors who combed the Middle and Far East for new tulip finds. E. Regel, the most noteworthy of these collectors, added T. Greigi , T. Kaufmanniana and T. Fosteriana to the cultivated tulip lists. These are now the backbone of the early tulips that we know today. T. Greigi and T. Kaufmanniana are short small red rock garden tulips and T. Fosteriana is the tall large handsome red or yellow emperor tulips of early spring. While searching the Near East for new tulip species Regel described the landscape "every ravine with red sandstone slopes reveals new tulip forms which break the monotony of the leathery leaved pistachia and almond scrub".

Flower shapes are variable with most being made up of the three inner and three outer perianth petals offset so that the outer petal centers are on the junction of inner petals. The flower length is usually slightly greater than its width. These are the regular tulip flowers. Lily tulips show much taller elongate perianth petals each often slightly twisted at the top. On the other hand parrot tulips have the upper margin of the perianth petals slashed, feathered, and twisted. Double tulips are ones where there are many more than the usual six perianth petals, so the flower looks more like a peony or a rose than a tulip. Doubles were first recorded in 1665 and have never been the most popular reaching their greatest use in the mid-seventeen hundreds. Finally there are multi-flowered tulips where the stem divides into several smaller stems each carrying a smaller regular tulip flower. This multiflower pattern is most likely the more primitive natural shape and it is ancient hybridizing which developed the larger single flower which we think of as standard today. All the lily, parrot, double, or multiflowered tulips are derived from the garden tulip group, which came to Europe from the Ottoman Empire.

Besides variation in flower form we have differences in flower color. In tulip plants only the perianth petals have colors other than green. These perianth petals have two possible sources of pigment, one is in the mesophyll cells which contain plastids. The color in the plastids is yellow or no color, white, and this is considered the ground color. The other source of color is cells in the petal cuticle which contain various soluble sap colors, variations of anthrocyanin which gives shades of crimson, purple, or brown. With delicate dissection one can separate the cuticle layer from the mesophyll layer and see where the colors are. So a white tulip has no color in either site. A totally yellow tulip only has plastid yellow ground color. A red, purple or brown tulip has anthrocyanin color added in the cuticle. Crimson or orange are combinations of yellow and red. Mixed patterns of white or yellow with red or purple markings are tulips where the ground color is constant but patches of cuticle color occur usually coming up from the petal base in streaks or flames or occurring along the top margin showing a border color. These tulips with mixed or broken color patterns were designated "broken" tulips.

For commercial classification garden tulips were designated Darwin, Cottage, or Breeders. Darwin tulips were collected in 1887 from Dutch gardens because they had bright colors and were tall. Cottage tulips were similarly collected a few years later from English and Irish gardens. Breeder tulips were old Dutch tulips often with darker less flashy orange, purple, bronze, or brown coloring. Any of these three groups could form "broken" patterns of more than one color and even as early as the sixteen hundreds the broken patterns were the most unique and sought after tulips. What they did not know then was that the "broken" tulip color occurs secondarily from a virus infection of the tulip so its degree of color alteration and pattern is not controlled genetically, but occurs by chance and may change from generation to generation. A spectacular white tulip with beautiful red flames on its perianth petals could on replanting turn into a complete dud with all red petals or a little red down at the base.

The often inaccurate quote "I invest, he speculates, they gamble" covers the mental attitude prevalent in Holland in the 17th century. Active buying and selling of company shares was occurring in the Amsterdam Bourse, which was the only licensed place for such dealing. The Bourse offered a bizarre environment with compulsive behavior and histrionics going on all the time. Professional brokers knew the system and acted for individuals wishing to sell or buy shares. They set the pace and prices, but there was another kind of investor, the petty speculator who traded strictly for himself, hoping to make quick killings by anticipating price fluctuations. In the four hours each day the Bourse was open, dealing became frantic, the handshake ceremony to indicate an agreed upon deal degenerated into exaggerated flamboyant displays with rough hand shakes and impudent shoving. Petty speculators lived off their wits and it became common practice to offer shares which were not yet in their possession and for which they had not yet paid. This was called "in Blanco" or "trading in the wind". This practice was frowned upon by magistrates and the Church. Such speculators were always optimistic that if they sold such unowned shares at a high price they could indeed procure the necessary shares and deliver them on schedule with no one being aware of the shakiness of the arrangement.

It was in the spirit of the times described above that the great Tulip Mania of 1635 to 1637 developed. Tulips had been introduced in Europe eighty years before. The exotic uniqueness of the flowers, the earliness in the spring of their floral display, and their bright colors all led to tulips' rapid assimilation into the gardening scene. Holland became the main propagating site because the rich sandy soil near Haarlem was nutritious and well drained and the climate, moderated by the Atlantic nearby, proved to be ideal for tulip growing. At first only connoisseur gardeners were able to get bulbs because of their rarity and since the demand was steadily rising, the price was also rising. The Dutch were quite used to a double standard. In rugs the wealthy would have Turkish or Persian rugs, while the less well endowed would have Flemish rugs. In table china the rich had Chinese blue and white porcelain and less well off had Delftware pottery made to look like porcelain by its glaze. Unfortunately with tulips there were no less expensive alternatives.

Tulip culture was begun by scholars and connoisseurs, the latter mostly representing aristocratic noblemen in France, Holland and Germany with some in eastern Europe. This was followed by horticultural growers taking the reins and trying to produce increased numbers of the valuable bulbs. Finally the high prices led to the speculator phase which basically involved everybody in Holland. French noblemen began that last phase by coveting each others "broken" tulips. These are the ones with yellow or white ground color and with a second "broken" red or purple anthrocyanin cuticle color formed in stripes or feathery upper border color or flame shaped color coming up from the base. The value of these special tulips rose inordinately. As Holland was the major production site, the growers first and then their associates realized that bulbs could be sold a few months later for greatly exaggerated prices.

Soon merchants, wagon drivers, and housekeepers were all investing in the tulip crop. The bulbs were left in the ground and the purchaser would just get a piece of paper from the grower saying X bulbs or such and such a size of field of tulips had been bought and was now owned by the speculator. He or she could sell the piece of paper and it would be sold and re-sold as the imagined value continued to rise while the tulips remained in the grower's field until they were judged mature and could be dug. The selling of the piece of paper of course constituted a market in tulip futures very much like the risky futures markets of today. Even more dangerous, these were futures of a specific group of actual bulbs which could be flooded out, eaten by fungi, or in fact change color to a dull much less valuable appearance. The Dutch were totally involved, each investor thinking they were going to get rich and live happily ever after.

The tulip market in the early sixteen hundreds was amplified by the first published illustrated lists of available tulips of course emphasizing the beauty of "broken" tulips, the most famous of which was "semper Augustus" a white tulip with irregular red flames rising up each pericanth petal from its base. Increased notice led to increased popularity, increased demand and increased price. Buyers and sellers did not use the formal financial institutions like the Bourse but did organize a series of "colleges" that met in specific taverns at specific times where common people could trade with no official regulation, but did have guild ritual. By the sixteen thirties the paper tulip futures prices were doubling or tripling by the week. In this volatile market many buyers made offers conditional on delayed payment terms which in effect was sellers offering tulips they did not yet possess and for which they had not yet paid. In fact their tulips and their profits were totally speculative and were paper "in the wind". These transactions in the taverns were always associated with sociable ale drinking and feasting. The highest recorded tulip price was 5500 florins for one ten gram bulb of the broken tulip semper Augustus . A single viceroy tulip bulb cost 2 wagon loads of wheat, 4 loads of rye, 4 fat oxen, 8 fat pigs, 12 fat sheep, 2 hogsheads wine, 4 barrels of beer, 2 barrels of butter, 1000 pounds of cheese, a bed, a suit of clothes, and a silver beaker (valued at approximately 2500 florins).

The magistrates became more and more concerned about the uncontrolled tulip market prices. The tulip growers began to realize that such artificial prices could not be maintained and they would be the losers when relatively worthless bulbs were left in the ground. The Church had always spoken out against such speculation and added moral strength to the coming controls. The first to act were the growers who met in late February 1637 and generated the Amsterdam Accord saying that all sales prior to November 1636 would be bona fide, and subsequent sales would be invalid. This protected the growers whose sale of newly planted bulbs in November would be honored, but speculative sales after planting would not be binding. Dutch public officials did not agree and the Accord went to the High Court of Holland which did not feel charitable towards the growers who were charged with initiating the craze. The Court ruled in April 1637 that all deals made since fall planting were invalid and growers were forced to resell their stocks, but the price had now crashed and the growers were stuck with the major financial damage of the collapse. Local arbitrators heard individual cases of dispute; many people lost artificial fortunes and tulip prices returned to their more appropriate original levels. Altogether the Tulip Mania was a weird economic glitch which should never have happened, but did because of human frailty and greed.

The Dutch community immediately generated numerous etchings ridiculing foolish ambition based on the tulip craze. These prints were supposed to educate and amuse the population. The prints show large fools hats with goddess Flora and tulip bulbs being thrown away or a wind wagon in which Flora stood holding the most sought after tulips (General Bol, semper Augustus , and Admiral van Hoorn ), being chased by wealthy burghers pleading to be let on board. In the background is the view of a wrecked wind wagon with the sheriff approaching it. It is interesting to note that this Dutch graphic cartoon method of educating the people was seen again in 1720 at the time of the Mississippi company swindle. This involved shares of a French company supposedly having a geographical and financial interest in a new world colony, centered around New Orleans, speculatively increasing in value, to the point that when it was realized the colony was nowhere nearly as good as the developers had indicated, the market collapsed -- the famous "Mississippi bubble".. The French general, Cadillac, who founded Detroit, lost his fortune in that mania.

It is interesting that a hyacinth mania began in the 1730's mimicking the beginnings of the tulip mania, but fortunately the magistrates and the Church recognized the potential danger much earlier. They had learned from their tulip experience of a century before, and brought the hyacinth speculation under control before it had time to develop into such a dangerous economic fiasco.

Because of our great interest in the spring flower which brings cheerful bright colors to the garden and table at the time of year when the days are getting longer after a tedious Chicago winter, we were lured to consider an April ausflug to the Netherlands where we could observe the center of tulip culture, enjoy the extensive plantings at Keukenhof Park, follow the flowers to the massive auction house at Alysmeer and see them loaded on trucks and airplanes for world wide distribution. This seemed to be an admirable focus for a trip.

So in the spring of 1996 we were off on the transatlantic flight to Paris, renting a car, driving north through cathedral country and Belgium, and getting to Amsterdam in April ready to see tulips in all their glory. On arrival we began to hear rumblings of what a cold spring it had been, but undaunted we drove out southwest to see the fields and plantings. Driving on the Michelin guide designated road down through the middle of the commercial tulip growing area, all one could see was sandy dirt with a few little green sprouts coming out of the ground, one to two inches tall. Due to the cold spring everything was four weeks behind usual growth so we came all that way only to see a few crocuses and grape hyacinths. Do not feel too sorry for us, we had a wonderful time exploring Amsterdam and soaking up the paintings in the Ryksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.

The last part of this tulip paper must deal with personal growing experiences. All gardeners including myself wish to grow tulips because of their graceful beauty. The first year's blossoms are dependent upon good mature bulbs planted properly, but later generations of bloom depend upon genetic strength, proper soil nutrition and foliage undisturbed until it dies back to get maximum restrengthening of the bulb reserve. Most newly planted bulbs will produce several years of bloom and then regress to producing one leaf and no flower. In our Chicago backyard garden we have a real problem with an overabundant squirrel population. If they are distracted enough not to eat up the newly planted bulbs in the fall, they wait until just before the flower bud opens in the spring and then chew off the stem and eat the center of the flower. It is very disconcerting to view your tulip beds strewn with disassociated perianth petals and gnawed off stems when you were hoping for two weeks of tall beautiful flowers bending softly in the spring breezes.`

A northern Indiana dunes garden is another possible growing site where there are fewer squirrels. But tulips planted there succumb to another hungry mammalian population. Here there are immense numbers of white tailed deer protected by the nearby National Lakeshore Park. There are no natural predators for this deer population as Indian braves and wolves are no longer active in this region. The increased numbers of deer become hungrier and hungrier over the long winter when there is little to sustain them. Come spring, a tulip growing up out of the ground is like a chocolate truffle to them. They chomp it off at ground level of course destroying its current potential and all further seasons' growth as well. The deer are so capable they can pick one tulip plant out of a bed containing 50 daffodils. The deer won't eat daffodils because they are poisonous. With modern genetic engineering progressing so fast we need some expert to move the plant genes responsible for daffodil toxicity to tulips so they too will be protected from consumption by hungry animals.

Altogether this is one Literary Club member's knowledge and experience concerning tulips, the special harbinger of spring in this changeable temperate climate. By the way there is a wild pale yellow tulip named Tulipa Straussii described by Bornmuller in 1912, collected from the Kermanshah-Baghdad caravan route near Mount Noa-kuh. Unfortunately Hall did not include it in his classification because he had not seen a living specimen.

[Last edited Apr 24, 2011 9:06 AM CST]
Quote | Post #629416 (1)

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