OLD DUTCH TULIPS - Tulip 'Lac van Rijn'

botanical illustration of Tulip 'Lac van Rijn'
Tulipa 'Lac van Rijn'

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 colour 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 'Tulip Boek'. 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 fa├žade 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. You are unlikely to find Tulip ‘Lac van Rijn’ bulbs in garden centers during their seasonal availability in the spring however they can be found online from a number of reliable retailers.

Main image credit - public domain

For related article click onto the following links:
How to Grow Species Tulips from Seed
OLD DUTCH TULIPS - Tulip 'Absalom'
SPECIES TULIP - Tulipa Wilsoniana
Tulip 'Lac van Rijn'

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