Wild Tulip - Tulipa sylvestris subsp. australis
By Tony Hall
This beautiful little wild tulip is the only tulip native to Andalucía and is not particularly common.
A medium-sized bulbous plant to around 45 cm tall, with slender, upright stems. Each bulb produces a solitary yellow flower. They often grow in small, tight groups, and can look like they have more than one flower per plant.
Each plant makes 2 or 3 lance-shaped glaucous leaves, that are often tinged red, and deeply channelled. The leaves are generally fairly upright but can be almost prostrate.
The flowers start off as nodding buds, which are a reddish-orange on the backs of their petals. This colouration often fades somewhat as the flower opens.
The 6-petalled flowers have noticeably pointed tips, and as the flowers open they become more upright turning into pretty little, bright yellow, star-shaped flowers, with short yellow anthers.
Flowering from March to June, they are found from just above sea level, to over 2000m in the mountains, growing in stony ground, in meadows, between scrub and in the mountains.
Tony Hall, Manager of the Arboretum and Gardens at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, specialising in the plants of Andalucía.