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What is a Wild Tulip?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2016
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A wild tulip is a flowering plant distinguished by its bright yellow, star-shaped blossoms. Also known by its scientific name, Tulipa sylvestris, the plant can be found growing wild in parts of the northern United States and Canada as well as in Germany, England, Spain, and France. It is also cultivated in many parts of North America and Europe. Wild tulip is fairly easy to plant and care for, making it a good choice for those with limited gardening experience.

The most distinctive feature of the wild tulip is its brilliant yellow blossoms. These blossoms consist of six sharply pointed petals measuring approximately 2 to 3 inches (5.08 to 7.62 cm) in length. The petals are arranged around a cluster of stamens which are usually the same shade of yellow as the rest of the flower. When the wild tulip’s bloom opens — usually in mid to late spring — its pointed petals resemble a six-sided star.

Typically, each wild tulip bulb produces one thin, central stalk which holds a single blossom. This stalk is dark green in color. The plant’s height from base to blossom tip usually measures between 9 and 15 inches (22.86 and 38.1 cm).

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Each wild tulip’s stalk is flanked by narrow, blade shaped leaves which can be as tall as or even taller than its stalk and blossom. These leaves are the same dark green color as the stalk. This green hue makes an attractive contrast with the plant’s bright yellow blooms, which may contribute to its popularity in home and public gardens.

Wild tulips are relatively easy to plant and care for. Bulbs should be planted during the fall months, and should be deposited approximately 3 inches (7.62 cm) beneath the soil. As long as the environment is not overly dry, the bulbs do not require additional watering. Once the plants have begun to break through the soil — usually in late winter or early spring — gardeners should ensure that they receive regular moisture. Bulbs usually continue to produce blossoms for three years.

It should be noted that the wild tulip can be quite difficult to remove once it has been planted. This is because new bulbs can sprout from existing ones, and these new plants tend to be hidden deep beneath the soil. Therefore, before planting wild tulip, gardeners may wish to give serious consideration to the possibility that they may have problems eliminating it in the future.

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