The tulip hunter of Toktogul

January 25, 2023

Wild tulips are magnificent! Some look like the garden varieties we all know so well, with tall stems topped by blousy, bucket-shaped flowers. There is nothing more fragile or beautiful than a flowering tulip existing in the vast expanse of nature. We think there are about 90–96 wild species globally, and 60 of these are in the UK's National Tulip Collections at Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG) and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. These ex situ collections are brilliant resources to safeguard biodiversity against extinction and to showcase wild tulip diversity to the public.

Wild tulips are magnificent! Some look like the garden varieties we all know so well, with tall stems topped by blousy, bucket-shaped flowers. Others are less recognisable, with delicate flowers and a slight fragrance.

There is nothing more fragile or beautiful than a flowering tulip existing in the vast expanse of nature. Wild varieties are tough – they can be found clinging to rocky outcrops or surviving on steep stony slopes, flowering in large mountainous meadows where grazing is common, and existing on the harsh desolate ground on the edge of deserts.

We think there are about 90–96 wild species globally, and 60 of these are in the UK's National Tulip Collections at Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG) and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. These ex situ collections are brilliant resources to safeguard biodiversity against extinction and to showcase wild tulip diversity to the public.

My passion is conservation. I started out searching for a rare apple tree in Kyrgyzstan for my Masters. And then came the chance to return to the region to collect wild tulips for my PhD in the Department of Plant Sciences working with the CUBG’s Curator, Sam Brockington, and David Gill from Fauna & Flora International (FFI).

Kyrgyzstan is a remarkable country with a compelling history, beautiful nature, and warm and friendly people. The country is over 90% mountains with high altitude pastures full of yurts a common sight in summer and snow leopards at home on the snowy peaks. It is situated in a region that was once the heart of the Silk Road and somewhere I had never really heard about at school primarily due to its ties to the Soviet Union and recent independence.

The source of this news is from University of Cambridge

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