A Close-up View of Two

"Parrot Tulips"

Tulipa x hybrida

Part 2

by Brian Johnston   (Canada)

In the first part of this month’s article, both the ‘form’ and ‘function’ of a parrot tulip are discussed.  Here however, the emphasis is almost entirely on the ‘form’ of another parrot tulip type, since the reproductive structures are identical.

The image above shows the brilliant yellow and red colouration of this second type.  Notice that unlike the earlier tulip, this one has no projections growing from the surfaces of its petals. The bloom shown has a diameter of about eight centimetres.

The range of colours in the buds and blooms is remarkable.  As you can see below, only the buds have green in their colour spectrum.

It would be difficult to predict the final colour pallet of the blooms, if one had only buds to examine.

Each bud is a miniature sculpture with a unique structure and colouration.  For this reason, I have chosen to concentrate on this early stage of the flower’s development in the article.  Usually, the emphasis is put on the final flower.  Here instead, we look closely at its precursor.  Here is a perfect example.  I hope you agree that the botanical sculpture seen below is extraordinary!

Each bud is structurally unique.  For proof, have a look at the examples below.

As we move closer to the buds, the details can be seen more clearly.

The three images that follow show one view of a bud, and several associated details.

Here is another example.

Before we examine the next stage in the flower’s blooming process, here are several additional close-ups of parrot tulip buds.

From one to two days after the bud stage seen in the previous images, the flowers begin to open.  As you can see below, the green colour has almost faded away, leaving pale yellow in its place.

Eventually, all traces of green are gone.

The distinctive red pattern seen at the tip of the central petal exists (with subtle variations) on all petals.

Here are a couple of images of floral details.  The right-hand image shows a particularly perfect example of the red pattern mentioned earlier.

I mentioned a moment ago that there are variations in the red pattern at the tips of petals.  Here is a particularly striking example.  The two-parted bulbous structure seen clearly in the second and third images is not solid.  The form is concave on the other side.

A side and back view of an open bloom can be seen below.  As with most parrot tulips, the stem is the weakest link.  It is usually not strong enough to support the mature flower in an upright position.

The point of connection of flower to stem is examined in the series of images that follow.

To conclude, here are two macro views of this extraordinary tulip hybrid.

I hope that the images in this article have convinced you that it is not necessary to travel to an art gallery to view modern sculpture.  The buds of the botanical marvel, the parrot tulip, transform any room in which they are present into their own museum of modern (botanical) art!

Photographic Equipment

The macro-photographs were taken with an eight megapixel Canon 20D DSLR equipped with a Canon EF 100 mm f 2.8 Macro lens which focuses to 1:1.  A Canon 250D achromatic close-up lens was used to obtain higher magnifications in several images.

 All comments to the author Brian Johnston are welcomed.

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Published in the December 2006 edition of Micscape.
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