Maja

'Maja'
Yellow Crispa
or Fringe Tulip

"You shall not be called Thumbelina
any more," said the tiny king. "You shall
be called Maja."

-Hans Christian Andersen
(1805-1875)

   

Most but not all fringed tulips are mutations of Single Late tulips. 'Maja' is not one of the exceptions.

It stands about twenty inches tall & is a late-blooming single cottage tulip. It blossoms in April or early May. It has a pale silvery-yellow flower, darker yellow inside. 'Maja' will return each spring for many years.

An heirloom variety, 'Maja' was introduced in 1903. The frilled tulips are frilly only along the edges & otherwise look like the single smooth egg-shaped tulips they are descended from. Its fringe is sufficient to make it stand out distinctly, & is often described as resembling ice crystals.

Maja is a variant spelling of Maia, Greek Goddess of spring, clouds, & rebirth, in Rome identified with Flora. As Hebe was a young virgin form of Hera, Maia was a youthful reflex of Cybele.

She was eldest of the maiden college of Pleiades (Atlantides). She was a meditative goddess who dwelt in a sacred cavern of Mount Kyllene in Arcadia, where she was visited by Zeus, & bore Hermes. She was also the foster-mother of Arkas, celebrated as the constellation of the Little Bear. The month of May is named for her.

Fringed tulips come in all the standard tulip colors. They probably amount to less than two percent of the tulips gardened, as opposed to large single tulips which make up at least 80 percent of the tulip market, early & late season varieties combined.

Ferretting out these less common bulbs can add considerable individuality to a tulip array. They manage to balance the good taste & simplicity of Darwin or Triumph tulips with the ornate elegance of parrot tulips though without the latter's gaudy excesses.

   



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