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Happy 492nd Birthday to Clusius, Progenitor of Tulips

Charles de l'Écluse,  aka Carolus Clusius  was born on February 19, 1526 in the Town of Arras, located in center of the Artois region in Northern France (formerly part of Southern Netherlands). Educated both in law and medicine, Clusius followed his love of plants, becoming a pioneering botanist and eventually the most influential of all 16th-century scientific horticulturists capped by his directorship of the Hortus Botanicus at the University of Leiden.

Carolus Clusius Amsterdam Tulip Museum

The eldest son of a prosperous merchant, Clusius attended the Universities of Louvain, Wittenberg and Montpellier, became fluent in multiple languages, and traveled throughout Europe. His extensive correspondence with academics and horticulturists helped develop a vast collection of plants from throughout the newly discovered worlds recently opened up by enterprising traders.

Clusius Hortus Botanicus Leiden

While serving as the director of Emperor Maximilian’s imperial medical garden in Vienna, Clusius developed a relationship with Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq (Booz-beck), who had been ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Busbecq arranged for exotic bulbs to be sent from the court of Suleimann the Magnificent at Constantinople to the gardens in Vienna. The Ottomans were among the first lovers of tulips, collected by travelers along the Silk Road.

Clusius Hortus Plantorum Histor Historical Print

Clusius brought tulips to the botanical garden in Leiden in 1593, where they became a sensation of early spring color in an otherwise drab time of year. Eventually, tulip bulbs found their way (or were stolen) into other private gardens in the Towns of Leiden, Haarlem and Amsterdam. A few decades later the phenomenon of Tulipmania led to prized broken varieties of flamed colors against a white or yellow being bid up to extraordinary heights.

Tulip Clusiana Lady Jane Colorblends Wholesale Flowerbulbs

Tulip Clusiana Lady Jane - one of the most graceful of all tulips. White petals brushed with reddish pink on the outside. The inside is pure white. Flowers open wide and flat in the sun. An Asian immigrant like most tulips: Jane's parents were from Iran and Afghanistan. Source: Colorblends Flowerbulbs.

 


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