26 April 2019
KAVB (the Royal General Bulb Growers’Association) uses a system of groups for the classification of tulip cultivars. Due to recent developments in the assortment of tulips, a new cultivar group has been added to this system: the Coronet Group. This article explains the ins and outs of the newest tulip division.
In 1949, the KAVB registered the tulip ‘Picture’ for G. Baltus. This cultivar was classified into the Single Late Group. It is a mutation of ‘Princess Elizabeth’, a creation of Krelage & Zn back in 1898. There is something special about ‘ Picture ‘. It’s a tulip with an uncommon shape. All the petals are laterally compressed, creating a spout at the tip of the petal. The whole plant also has a much firmer texture than other tulips. When they unveil their beauty in the garden, these specialty tulips are easy to recognise by their sturdy upright leaves which are turned towards the stem and a slightly inward-turning edge. It is said that they look like sailboats.
It wasn’t until 1992 that another tulip with the same characteristics was registered: ‘Witty Picture’ from Th. Timmerman. This cultivar was followed by ‘Liberstar’ from G. Sneekes (1999), a mutation of ‘ Blenda ‘, which, in turn, resulted in a white mutation called ‘ White Liberstar ‘ from P.J. van Diepen / J.A. Borst (2010), suited for gardens and for forcing. As such, the particular Picture shape can also now be spotted in forced tulips.
From that moment on, things accelerated: ‘ Confort ‘, ‘ Yellow Crown ‘, ‘ Elegant Crown ‘, ‘ Arctic Picture ‘, ‘ Red Dress ‘, ‘ Crown of Dynasty ‘ and ‘ Dress Code ‘ followed in quick succession for registration. Meanwhile, Tulipa ‘Negrita’ resulted in a purple mutation which completed the colour palette currently available: white, pink, red, yellow and purple. There were also two-toned cultivars.
The presence of a growing number of unusual, ‘picturesque’ and oddly shaped tulips in the marketplace prompted KAVB to classify these as a new division (cultivar group). They are truly stand-alones within the Triumph group and the Single Late Group. So far, these tulips are only known as mutations, both by natural and artificial means of radiation. Until now, the new division was only comprised of single tulips, but KAVB would like the option of including double tulips in the future. The group will be called Coronet Group and refers to the flower shape that resembles a crown. Tulipa ‘Picture’ can be used as a reference cultivar for this group.
KAVB is updating its tulip classification system. The current classification is no longer sufficient to classify the modern range. For example, there are double fringed tulips but the description of the group refers to single tulips. Modern-type Darwin hybrids hardly distinguish themselves from Triumph tulips.
Of course, there will always be tulips that cannot be classified properly and there is no point in creating a specific group for each different shape. Cultivars like ‘ Green Mile ‘ actually fall into two cultivar groups: the Fringed Group and the Viridiflora Group. Further study is required.
The classification of tulips will require a great deal of attention in the coming years. It would be helpful if companies communicated which of their cultivars are no longer planted and the date they ceased production as this will make reclassification unnecessary. Please email relevant information to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tulipa ‘Red Dress’
Tulipa ‘Elegant Crown’
Tulipa ‘Crown of Dynasty’
Tulipa ‘Yellow Crown’
Tulipa ‘White Liberstar’
Photo credits: KAVB, Visions