Wild Tulip, Tulipa sylvestris

I had never seen these before my visit to Dyrham Park. This is a stunning National Trust property, just south of the M4 on the road to Bath. I had looked this plant up on the internet and found references to it on the Gloucester Naturalist web site where they mentioned that there was a colony at Dyrham Park. So I contacted the NT at Dyrham Park and with help from the head gardener was able to locate this plant.

Dyrham is famous for its Spring displays of Tulips which are very beautiful and impressive but I was there for the Wild Tulip. This is yellow and relatively small, although the flower seems to be a little too large for the stalk so it tends to bow over, it is not bold and erect like the garden varieties.

Luckily I bumped into the Head gardener when we visited and he was kind enough to show me exactly where the small colony of these wild tulips were located…. just as well because Dyrham Park is quite extensive and despite his good directions over the phone, I still think i would have stugled to locate their exact location.

There were about 25 plants in flower and most were just going over, had I visited a few days later I would have struggled to find any in good condition. Obviously the best time will vary from year to year depending on the weather and 2018 has been slow to get started, several heavy snow falls will have delayed things so I would guess the best time to see them is the second week in April, give or take.

Wild Tulips are only found in a few locations in the UK although they are on sale from many horticulturalists, so probably exist in many peoples gardens. The centres of their range seems to be the  borders and lowlands of Scotland  and also in  East Anglia with only a few in other  locations in the south of England.

According to the BSBI  T. sylvestris was in cultivation in Britain by 1596. It was formerly much cultivated, and was recorded from the wild by 1790. It appears to have been widely naturalised by the late 18th and 19th centuries but it had already declined dramatically by the time of the 1962 Atlas.’

World wide it has an extensive range from Portugal in western Europe right across to China and down into north Africa.

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The flower is quite delicate and evidently has a ‘delightful scent’ but I did not notice it. The day I photographed it was quite windy and as I said there were not vast numbers of them. The other obvious characteristic apart  from the rich yellow colour is that the petals are quite pointed and curl back on them selves, somewhat like the Martagon Lily. I recently read that the name Turkscap which is also used for a Martagon Lily was originally used as a name for Tulips.

It is also referred to as the Wood Tulip but seems to prefer light shade, the ones at Dyrham were growing under trees but it was also a sunny grassy bank.

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