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Tulips from Kazakhstan


By AndrewR


You may remember back in April I went on a holiday to Kazakhstan, looking for plants in their natural habitat. I’ve finally finished identifying, sorting and indexing my pictures so now, belatedly, you will get some of my holiday photos.

Although we saw many plants, the main focus of the trip was wild tulips so this blog will concentrate on just them – other blogs will follow, at intervals, with some of the other interesting plants we saw.

We started the trip in the capital city of Almaty and went into the mountains just outside. First to be found was tulipa kolpakowskiana (by the time the holiday finished, we were fluent in all these tongue-twisting names!)

Nearby was tulipa alberti with distinctive wavy leaves

Tulipa bhusiana had similar leaves but little, if any, red colouring in the flowers

But tulipa ostrowskiana had almost pure red flowers

We also saw natural wild hybrids between T.kolpakowskiana and T.ostrowskiana

Tulipa greigii was probably the most distinctive with the purple marking on its leaves

Although most plants in the wild have red flowers, we also some with yellow blooms and others with both colours

Next to be discovered was tulipa kaufmanniana with very pointed buds. This grows over a large part of the country and we saw many different colours combinations including pure red, pure yellow and pure white.

T.greigii and T.kaufmanniana hybridise in the wild as well but their leaves always carry the purple markings of the former

Moving further west, we came across tulipa orthopoda but did not see any in flower, only seedheads

In near-desert conditions, we found tulipa borszczowii, another tulip with crinkly leaves

And nearby, the very similar tulipa lehmanniana

At our next base, higher in the mountains, we found tulipa turkestanica

Finally, we returned to Almaty and headed into the mountains in a different direction, heading right up to the snow line. Here we found two very similar tulips – we had to place them side by side to tell them apart. Tulipa heterophylla is on the left and tulipa dasystemon is on the right.

In total, there are sixteen tulips we might have seen; we saw eleven in flower and found seedpods on a twelfth. Perhaps I need to go back to find the other four?

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Lovely photos - some of those tulips are familiar but of course others are very special and maybe not even available over here. It's very different seeing them in their 'real' home, rather than in a flowerbed or a pot, isn't it!

28 Oct, 2008


Seeing plants in their natural habitat gives us a clue as to how to grow them in terms of soil conditions, sun/shade and moisture levels. What we can't mimic of course is the climate - many plants survive with dry winters or under a covering of snow but just rot in our milder but wetter conditions. Many of the plants we saw will grow quite happily in the UK but others do not appear to be available here or, in a few cases, are not even in cultivation

28 Oct, 2008


brilliant blog Andrew, the photos are fantastic

28 Oct, 2008


That was very interesting. I want to know what other plants you saw now. I'll look forward to the next blog.

28 Oct, 2008


~ loved the ones on second last pic!~

28 Oct, 2008


Many thanks for the great trip, Andrew. I really like those crinkly leaves!

3 Nov, 2008


I can understand how you would relish seeing the lovely blossoms growing on a hillside, completely uncultured. and like David, I enjoyed the ruffled leaves...very different. So when do you suppose you will return to find the missing four?
Thanks for the many interesting plants come from that part of the world.

13 Dec, 2008

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