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TULIPA ACUMINATA (T. 'CORNUTA') - Species tulips 2015



English: Horned tulip, Turkish tulip
German: Horntulpe
French: Tulipe cornue
Spanish: Tulipa
Italian: Tulipano
Swedish: Tulpan
Finnish: Tulppaani

T. acuminata is a rare and unusual tulip. It has a botanical name, but is not known to exist in the wild. The approved name is Tulipa 'Çornuta'. It could be a natural hybrid or then a relic of the famous Istanbul tulip of the Ottoman Empire of early 1700's. It was described in 1813.

Tulip figures were used for long as decorative elements in tiles and stuccowork in Persia. Tulips got very fashionable during the Ottoman period in Turkey and there was a 'tulip mania' period in 17th and early 18th century. Hundreds of thousands of tulip bulbs had been planted in the Topkapi court and palace gardens in Istanbul and rare forms and varieties commanded very high prices. Lavish festivals were arranged to celebrate at the flowering time. From the 16th to the 18th century Turkish horticulturists had created hundreds, if not thousands, of named varieties. During Sultan Ahmed III's time the criterias for tulip forms were set in 1725: the flowers should be almond shaped with long and sharply pointed, dagger-like petals on strong and long stems, leaves long, but not conceiling the flowers. The colours should be pure and clear. This was the classic form of the Istanbul tulip, well known from Turkish illustrations, textiles and ceramics.

The Turkish didn't appreciate the cup-shaped Anatolian tulips with round petals that were sent to Vienna and further to the Netherlands and planted by Carolus Clusius at the new Botanical Garden of Leiden. They thought these lacked the elegance of Istanbul tulips and were banal. However, a few decades later Dutch tulip hybrids were imported to Turkey. The origin of the Istanbul tulip is uncertain, but today they are extinct.

Tulipa acuminata has very thin pointed and twisted spidery petals on 40-50 cm stems. The solitary flowers are yellow streaked with red and bloom in April-May.

The bulbs are available from specialist growers and should be planted in light, sandy soil in the fall. The bulbs can be left in the soil after flowering and they can naturalize and spread in sunny and warm conditions. They look pretty and exotic as cut flowers.

Classic Istanbul tulip illustrated in The Book of Tulips 1725

Tulipa acuminata



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