The tulip variety 'Lac van Rijn' is truly a living antique which dates back almost 4 centuries to the year 1620.
Standing barely a foot tall and supporting dramatic purple-red, ivory-edged petals in April, ‘Lac van Rijn’ still remains remarkably color stable and virtually unchanged - unlike many of the old varieties.
Written in the seventeenth century as ‘Lack van Rijn’, the botanical drawing - see left - is a leaf from Cos's 'Tulipenboek'. It shows the cultivar as it was witnessed by Mr P. Cos who was a florist and tulip grower by trade who worked in the Dutch city of Haarlem in 1637.
This was during the heydays of the tulip mania period, a time when a few bulbs could be valued as much as the prize of a stately canal house in the city of Hoorn, one of the more prosperous cities of the Dutch East India Company. In fact there is still a house in this once wealthy area which displays a façade stone depicting three tulips - the price at which the house was bought for at that time.
Like many bulbs during the Tulip mania period prices were high for even a single ‘Lac van Rijn’ bulb. Records say that one bulb - weighing approximately 5 grams at planting - was priced at an exorbitant 175 Dutch guilders - this was roughly equivalent to eight month wages for an average hand labourer!
Today ‘Lac van Rijn’ is one of the oldest of the 'tulip mania' bulbs that is still in production, however it is available at a far more modest price - although stock is extremely limited for this rare and beautiful plant.
The picture -above right shows a small collection of ‘Lac van Rijn’ from May, 2009 in their first year of flowering.
For related article click onto the following links:
How to Grow Species Tulips from Seed
HOW TO PLANT TULIPS
OLD, BROKEN, AND UNUSUAL DUTCH TULIP VARIETIES
OLD DUTCH TULIPS - Tulip 'Absalom'
SPECIES TULIP - Tulipa Wilsoniana
TULIP HISTORY AND POPULAR VARIETIES
TULIP 'Ice Cream'
Tulip 'Lac van Rijn'
WHAT IS THE TULIP BREAKING VIRUS?