Kolpakowski Tulip,
aka Sun Tulip

When they shall tell, in future times,
Of thousands giv'n for idle rhymes
Like these — the pastime of an hour,
They'll wonder at the lavish taste
That could, like tulip-fanciers, waste
A little fortune on a flower!

-Lalah Rooke,
Thomas Moore


TulipThe sunny Tulipa kolpakowskiana is quite an easy species tulip to grow in any well-drained soil with plenty of sun morning & afternoon.

It is native of Central Asia, found in Uzbekistan, Turkestan, Kyrgyzstan, & Afghanistan from northern Tien Shan to southern Ala Tau.

Ours grow in a low-maintence roadside garden where it springs up at one side of a Choke Berry bush near several other species tulips.

The first photo was shot late in March (2003), showing the first of the Kolpakowskis to bloom, getting ahead of the general flourish. The second photo was the last to flower in the tiny drift in 2003, photographed exactly mid-April.

In 2004 more of them flowered in the first week of spring & did not last as far into April; the third photo is from March 2004.

Tulip For some odd reason, not many species tulips have well-used common names, the majority collectively called Species Tulips, Botanicals, or Wild Tulips. At least one grower's catalog takes the species name of T. kolpakowskiana & renders it as the vernacular Kolpakowski's Tulip, after an early 20th Century botanical explorer, for whom an Iranian species iris is also named. T. ostrowskyana grows together with T. kolpakowskiana in the mountains & valleys of southern Kazakhstan, & is named for the Russian botanist N. Ostrowski, who together with Kolpakowski were first to describe many species tulips. In Europe it was first recorded in 1844 by Eduard August von Regel.

T. kolpakowskiana does have an easy common name in Sweden, where it is called Soltulpan, or Sun Tulip, inspired of course by its color, & perhaps additionally because the flower is only open when the sun is bright. When it is closed morning & late afternoon, it is still quite charming, showing off a bit of pinkishness on the outside of the petals.

The overall appearance has considerable variation & bulbs from completely different sources will look a bit different from one another. But overall, the interior of the slender-petalled cups are a very pure color; even the anthers are yellow. The outer petals on ours are flushed with a bit of red, but some strains have quite a bit more red on the outside, & sometimes they are more yellow-green than yellow on the outside.

Some of the bulbs produce two or three flower stems instead of just the one, so a drift with only a few bulbs can look rather flowery from the start. They stand a half-foot tall, to eight inches at tip of flower.

The buds are at first nodding, but by the time they open, they are upright little fellows. This tulip is a recipient of the Award of Garden Merit.


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