|The black tulip is a story of myth and reality. For centuries Dutch tulip growers have searched for this exclusive flower. Recently, a grower/hybridizer from the northern part of Holland achieved what no one else had managed to achieve.
On February 18, 1986, shortly after midnight, Dutch grower Geert Hageman from Oude Niedorp, a village in the north of Holland, made a final round through his greenhouses. For days he had been waiting nervously for thousands of tulips to come into bloom. These tulips were the result of a new and promising cross-fertilization project. Outside the temperature was far below zero, but in the greenhouse the temperature of 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) prevailed. It would not be long before the first green buds would change color and would show the ultimate color of the flower.
Geert‘s eyes looked along the rows of tulips, all planted in individual pots, and thought of all the attempts he had made in the last ten years to cultivate an almost-black tulip. Time and again, cross-fertilization between purple and dark purple tulips had resulted in purple tulips. He was aware of how small the chances were of producing an almost-black tulip. Earlier in the 16th-century growers had tried to cultivate a black tulip. The black tulip was never cultivated and seemed to be a myth, which, like the imitation gold of alchemists, could never become reality.
The myth spread throughout the world thanks to a novel written in 1850 by Alexander Dumas called ‘La Tulipe Noire’. Geert Hageman read the book as a young boy and was fascinated by it. In 1891, the well-known grower Krelage produced a black tulip and called in ‘La Tulipe Noire’, but it was more purple than black. The ‘Queen of Night’ tulip, which was registered in 1955, is very dark, but mainly aubergine coloured. ‘Black Parrot’ has a purple hue and still is not 100% black.
In the seventies Hageman crossed ‘La Tulipe Noire’, ‘Black Parrot’, ‘Black Beauty’ and ‘Yokohama’ in as many combinations as possible. In July 1979, he collected the seeds from 20 ‘mothers’ producing one thousand viable seeds, which were then sown in coded seed trays. On that late February night, the individual seeds would flower for the first time in the greenhouse. Hageman once more cast his eyes over the tulips and in the middle of all the foliage he spotted a small, shining very dark tulip bud. ‘A black tulip’ was the thought which flashed through his mind. Finally, after many years, the miracle had happened: the first Black Tulip became reality!! It took another 11 years before this tulip could be taken into production, but in 1997 tulip ‘Paul Scherer’ came on the market.
|More FAQ questions:
How many kinds of tulips are there?
Where does the tulip get its name?
Is the tulip native to Holland?