Early illustrations, Wieland and Gessner, 1540s-1550s
The oldest surviving illustrations of Tulipa sylvestris are two watercolors contained ina two-volume handwritten manuscript from 1549, known as the Codex Kentmanus. This manuscript was compiled by the German physician Johannes Kentmann (1518-1574), who studied medicine in Padua, Venice and Bologna between 1547 and 1549. The one watercolor is named “Tulipa Turcica” and depicts a slender plant bearing a single flower with five tepals (Fig. 1a). This unrealistic representation – monocots do not have five tepals – is accompanied by Kentmann’s uncertainty on the identity of this plant. In his annotations, probably compiled somewhat later (1550-1554), he wrote: “The Turks call this plant in their barbarous tongue ‘Tulipa’; what it is I do not know” [34, 35]. The epithet “Turcica” implies an Ottoman origin, but all images in the first volume of the Codex Kentmanus were drawn after plants that Kentmann observed in Italy . The paper sheet on which this “Tulipa Turcica” was made carries a watermark depicting a triple mountain and cross, which originates from Padua  (see also ), where Kentmann lived and drew several plants of the city’s botanical garden . During his two-year stay, Kentmann also travelled elsewhere in Italy, observing and drawing interesting and unknown plants [34, 35]. The other watercolor of T. sylvestris in Kentmann’s manuscript is named “νάρκισσος [nárkissos]; Lilionarcissus, Tulipae species”, and depicts a robust double-flowered plant (Fig. 1b). It is included in the second volume of Codex Kentmanus, which only partly contains plants that Kentmann observed in Italy . An Italian origin seems likely for this illustration as well, but it was unfortunately drawn on a sheet without watermark, nor is it accompanied by annotations. Therefore, we do not have actual evidence about its provenance.
Kentmann’s illustrations reached the scholarly circles through the Swiss botanist Conrad Gessner (1516-1565), who borrowed Kentmann’s manuscript between 1554 and 1555 [9, 35]. Besides publishing the first scientific description of a red tulip, Gessner  also wrote about Tulipa sylvestris based on Kentmann’s “Tulipa Turcica” andacknowledged Kentmann as the source of origin for the name “Tulipa”. In his notes about T. sylvestris, Kentmann  wrote that the name “Tulipa” is owed to the shape of the flower that refers to a Dalmatian cap (“pileoli Dalmatici”), an information that Gessner  and other authors later reproduced, e.g., [37, 38, 39]. Modern authors (e.g., ) have argued that the name “Tulipa” derived from the Ottoman “turban” as a result of a misunderstanding, in which presumably de Busbecq was involved. But, although this information is plausible, we could not find it in sixteenth-century literature. Referring to Kentmann’s “Tulipa Turcica”, Gessner  provided a rough morphological description of T. sylvestris and, more interestingly, mentioned that he received seeds of this plantfrom Guilandinus Borussus, the latinized name of Melchior Wieland (ca. 1520-1589). Wieland was a Prussian botanist who took up his studies in Königsberg in 1544/45, continued them in Italy and settled in Padua, where in 1561, he was appointed head of the city’s botanical garden, a position he held until his death [40, 41]. When Gessner borrowed Kentmann’s manuscript he kept copies of 142 illustrations that caught his attention, among which also one of the two T. sylvestris images  (Figs. 1a, 2a). Since Kentmann had already left Italy, Gessner asked Wieland to send him seeds of this plant from Padua. It was probably somewhere between ca. 1554 and 1559 that Wieland’s seeds arrived in Zurich. We base this on circumstantial evidence, as in 1554 Gessner saw Kentmann’s illustration and we know that he corresponded with Wieland already since at least 1556 (Gessner to Wieland, 3rd May, 1556, www.aerztebriefe.de/id/00045404), and apparently must have hosted him in Zurich even earlier since Gessner in his letters called him his former “house guest” (hospes) . In spring 1559, at the latest, Wieland left Padua to embark on a ca. two-year field trip to the Orient, as we know that in the summer of that year he had already travelled through Istanbul to Cairo (Wieland to Aldrovandi, 2nd June, 1559, www.aerztebriefe.de/id/00016516). As far as we know, this was the first intended introduction of T. sylvestris northwards in Europe. Gessner must have carefully studied Kentmann’s illustration over the years, as can be seen in his personal notes on the illustration (Fig. 2a). He noted the morphological difference of this tulip from the (famous) red tulip that he had observed in Augsburg in 1559, and that this was rather more similar to another plant that he had received from Ulrich Fugger in 1560. He also drew Wieland’s seeds on the paper sheet, and noted their morphological difference from another yellow tulip (“Tulipae luteae”) that he had received from the French surgeon and collector Nicolaus Rassius (Rassé). This might have been a yellow-flowered variety of T. gesneriana from Rassius’ garden in Paris.
Another important botanist of the early sixteenth century, the German Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1506), also had two illustrations of Tulipa sylvestris (Table 1), but their dating as of 1543-1547 and 1543-1548 (Baumann et al., 2001) is questionable. The plant layout in the illustration dated 1543-1547 (Fig. 2b) is remarkably similar to Kentmann’s “Tulipa Turcica” from 1549 (Fig. 1a), although evidently drawn by a different hand, presumably that of Fuchs’ illustrator Heinrich Füllmaurer . It seems however unlikely that Fuchs, who never travelled to southern Europe, possessed already in the 1540s a plant still unknown to northern Europeans (see also  on Fuchs’ misleading identifications of Mediterranean plants). Moreover, Fuchs wrote that T. sylvestris was frequent in German gardens , which again is inaccurate for this early period. This observation, however, might have been written later, or referred to daffodils in general.
One more early illustration of Tulipa sylvestris survives in another handwritten manuscript of Italian origin, I Cinque Libri di Piante, compiled by the Venetian patrician Pietro Antonio Michiel from about 1550 to his death in 1576 . Michiel’s life-long masterpiece contains images of the plants that grew in his famous garden outside Venice and in the garden of Padua, which he curated between 1551 and 1555 . T. sylvestris appears in this manuscript as part of a group of yellow daffodils under the name “Narcisi gialli da volgari – Tulipa spetie” (Fig. 3). Michiel wrote that this plantgrew on the Santo Angelo mountain in Abruzzo and in Bologna. A catalogue of the plants cultivated in Michiel’s garden surviving in the Aldrovandian manuscripts includes several daffodil species (“Narcissi varie spes”; ), under which T. sylvestris is likely also meant.
Early herbarium specimens: Bologna, 1550s
The oldest surviving specimens of Tulipa sylvestris also come from Italy, Bologna in specific (Table 1). Two specimens are dated 1552 and 1553 and are included in the herbarium of Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) [47, 48], one of the most prominent naturalists of the sixteenth century, appointed professor of botany in Bologna from 1561 and for the subsequent almost 40 years. In the herbarium of Aldrovandi survive eighteen in total tulip specimens, some of which originated from Bologna and others from Padua, which Aldrovandi probably received from Wieland, as evidenced from their surviving letters, which indicate exchange of plants and tulip bulbs between the two since at least 1554. The specimens of T. sylvestris both came from Bologna, the 1552 specimen representing a robust double-flowered plant (Fig. 4a), and the 1553 specimen a smaller, more slender, single-flowered plant (Fig. 4b). A third early specimen from Bologna is contained in the herbarium of Francesco Petrollini (Erbario B; [48, 49, 50]), dated pre-1553 .
Six more sixteenth-century specimens of Tulipa sylvestris survive today, four of which are also Italian. One is contained in the En Tibi herbarium, also made by Petrollini around Bologna in ca. 1558  and another is part of an herbarium volume of unclear provenance (Erbario A), preserved together with Petrollini’s Erbario B (Table 1). The two combined are conventionally known as “Erbario Cibo” [49, 50]. Two more specimens are dated from 1563, the first collected by the German physician and traveler Leonhard Rauwolf somewhere in northern Italy , and the latter included in the surviving herbarium of Andrea Cesalpino made in Pisa for the bishop Alfonso Tornabuoni [52, 53].
A specimen of unknown geographical provenance is included in the herbarium of the Swiss botanist Felix Platter dated ca. 1552-1614, and a specimen of apparently French provenance is included in another Swiss herbarium, that of Caspar Bauhin from Basel, dated 1577-1624 (Table 1).
The first scientific description: Dodoens and the Libri Picturati, 1560s
Although Gessner  had written about Kentmann’s “Tulipa Turcica”, it was in 1568 that Tulipa sylvestris was actually described for the first time in scientific literature. This was in the book Florum by the Flemish botanist Rembert Dodoens, latinized as Dodonaeus (1517-1585). Dodoens  called T. syvlestris the “small tulip” (“Tulipa minor”) and published a short morphological description and a woodcut that depicts two slender, single-flowered plants (Fig. 5a). Dodoens wrote that these small tulips grow somewhere in southern France.
Florum was part of a series of popular illustrated botanical books published by the famous Antwerp-based publishing house Officina Plantiniana run by Christophe Plantin. The woodcut of Tulipa sylvestris published in Florum is a mirrored copy of a watercolor (Fig. 5b) contained in the famous Libri Picturati, a magnificent collection of over 1400 plant illustrations, which is Flemish in origin and presently kept in Krakow, Poland . This watercolor is named “the small yellow tulip of Montpellier” (“Tulipa parva lutea. Monspel[liensis]”), a city located indeed in southern France, as Dodoens wrote. The watercolor is part of the core collection of Libri Picturati (van Uffelen, Egmond, personal communication), which is dated 1565-1568/9 , so it must have been shortly before 1568 that thiswatercolor was made. Indeed, in 1567, a year before Florum was published, the Mechelen-based draftsman Pieter van der Borcht (ca. 1530-1608) was commissioned by Plantin to create the images that would serve as models for the woodcuts of Florum, among which also the one of T. sylvestris . Possibly van der Borcht did not paint the watercolor himself, but only transferred it to the woodblock . Another candidate maker of this watercolor is painter Jacques vanden Corenhuysewho made several plant illustrations for the Flemish nobleman Charles de Saint Omer or Karel van Sint Omaars (1533-1569), the original owner of the Libri Picturati . This woodcut of T. sylvestris was reprinted at least 13 times in the following 80 years . One more watercolor of T. sylvestris is found in the Libri Picturati and has been drawn on a paper sheet carrying a watermark from 1566 the earliest (; G. van Uffelen, personal communication), but this image does not show stylistic similarity to any of Plantin’s woodcuts.
Origin France: De Lobel – Montpellier, 1560s
Three years after Florum was published, another important Flemish botanist, Matthias de Lobel or Lobelius (1538-1616), wrote that he dug out bulbs of Tulipa sylvestris from the Cevennes mountains north of Montpellier and sent them to Belgium . De Lobel used the name “Lilionarcissus Norbonensis” (Table 1), the epithet “Norbonensis” indicating Narbone as the geographical provenance of the plant, which corresponds to Provence and Languedoc, or generally southern France. “Lilionarcissus” was a name used for tulips in scholarly circles at that time , but was superseded by the vernacular “Tulipa”that was finally established nomenclaturally by Linnaeus . De Lobel probably dug out those bulbs between 1565 and 1567/8, as this period he was living in Montpellier for his medical studies and eagerly botanized the city’s surroundings .
De Lobel mentioned that he sent the bulbs to friends in Antwerp, but who were they? Perhaps the most well-known naturalist of Antwerp was the apothecary Pieter van Coudenbergh, but unfortunately, the inventory of his famous garden  was published at least five years before de Lobel sent the bulbs. It is therefore not surprising that no plant in this catalogue could be matched to Tulipa sylvestris, the closest record being a reference to three daffodil species (“Narcissi tres species”; ). Moreover, van Coudenbergh was not listed by de Lobel  among his close acquaintances, making it rather unlikely that he was the one who received the bulbs. More interestingly, de Lobel  mentioned in his Cruydtboeck two scribes from Antwerp who supported his work with their gardens. The first was Willem Martini, city scribe of Antwerp since 1565, known also for his involvement in the Dutch resistance against the Spaniards. The second was Jan van Hoboken, scribe of Antwerp at a later time, 1578-1590. It seems likely that any or both of these two men received de Lobel’s bulbs, but further information about their botanical activity is not known.
Besides the two Antwerp scribes, de Lobel gave a long list of plant “facilitators” in which a certain Mr. Reynoutre stands out. This name is an alias of Saint Omer, first owner of the Libri Picturati, where the model watercolor of the Florum woodcut of Tulipa sylvestris is included. Saint Omer was a wealthy nobleman and owner of an estate and castle in Moerkerke, near Bruges in Belgium . Florum’s watercolor, which was later reproduced also in de Lobel’s (and Clusius’) books published by Plantin, was made in the same period (between ca. 1565 and 1568) that de Lobel dug out the bulbs in Montpellier, and this provenance is also mentioned in the watercolor’s name (“Monspelliensis”). It may thus be assumed that de Lobel was also the direct or indirect source of the T. sylvestris bulbs that Saint Omer cultivated in his garden, the material based on which the specieswas for the first time described by Dodoens in 1568.
Origin Italy: Aldrovandi – Bologna and Apennines, 1570s
Five years after de Lobel wrote about the Narbone tulip, he also published on the Bologna tulip, “Bononiensis Lilionarcissus luteus, sive Tulipa”  (Fig. 6). He wrote that the Bologna tulip looks like the Narbone tulip “in leaf, stem and flower, but it is significantly more vigorous and bigger”, a detail of taxonomic importance as will be discussed below. He also added that the Bologna tulip was sometimes double-flowered, as can be seen in herbarium specimens and illustrations of the time (Figs. 1b, 4a, 6). This time, de Lobel published also two woodcuts: one for the Narbone tulip, the same as Dodoens’ woodcut from Florum, and one for the Bologna tulip, representing a double-flowered individual (Fig. 6). Unlike the woodcut for the Narbone tulip, the model used for the woodcut of the Bologna tulip could not be traced among the Tulipa sylvestris illustrations and specimens that survive today. Its stylistic resemblance to Florum’swoodcut points to another, perhaps lostwatercolor that has not survived in the Libri Picturati collection presently kept in Krakow.
We do not know where de Lobel got his Bologna tulips from. They possibly grew since early in the city’s gardens, as Johann Bauhin (1541-1614) reported having seen them in San Salvatore , one of the oldest gardens in Bologna, existing at least since the early 1550s . Aldrovandi and Petrollini already possessed specimens (Table 1) before or shortly after their graduation , so it must have been in the study material of medical students at the university of Bologna. Nevertheless, this tulip is not easy to trace in the 1568-1582 inventory of the Bologna public garden, which Aldrovandi founded in 1568. Several yellow tulips are listed in this inventory but they are all mentioned to have a Turkish origin (Aldrovandian manuscripts Ms. 002).
What we do know is that Clusius received Tulipa sylvestris directly from Aldrovandi, as Clusius personally recalled: “It grows in abundance in the Apennines from where Ulisse Aldrovandi, the Bolognese professor, dug it out and sent it to me from Bologna, many years ago” . Clusius discarded de Lobel’s “Lilionarcissus” in favor of “Tulipa” and used again the same woodcuts as Dodoens and de Lobel for the French and Italian plants [13, 14]. Clusius also suggested a new place of origin for T. sylvestris in Italy: the Apennine mountains. He first used the epithet “Apenninea” complementary to “Bononiensis” (“Tulipa Apenninea sive Bononiensis”; ) and later kept only the Apennine provenance, “Tulipa Apenninea”; ) (Table 1), though still mentioned that he received the plant from Bologna.
In our attempt to trace when Clusius could have received the Apennine tulip from Aldrovandi, we found a catalogue dated ca. 1574-1575 , containing a list of plants that Aldrovandi sent to Clusius for the imperial garden in Vienna (Aldrovandian Manuscripts, Ms. 136/05, cc. 371-374). A certain “Tulipanum luteum” (yellow tulip) is listed therein, which may refer to Tulipa sylvestris and could be the plant that Clusius remembered having received from Aldrovandi. However, the possibility of a garden tulip variety with yellow flowers (T. gesneriana) cannot be excluded. What is certain is that in 1571, Clusius had received seeds of both Bologna and Montpellier tulipsfrom one of his patrons, Jean de Brancion, a rich man from Mechelen, as Brancion himself declared in his letter to Clusius on August, 3rd that year . Clusius further dispersed this material in his network. For example, in 1577 he sent bulbs of both tulips to his German friend Joachim Camerarius, instructing him how to care for these “Tulipas Bononieses”and “Mompelianas”: “Do not mix them together with other tulips. Because they produce lateral bulbs and spread. It is better to put them in a distinct space […] so that they don’t spread too far. Otherwise they would occupy the whole garden in a few years” . Clusius [13, 14] repeated this observation from his own garden, that these tulips produce lateral bulbs through stolons (“tenuibus nervis in latera”, “lateral nerves at the sides”) and extensively spread. We do not know whether the Bologna and Montpellier tulips that Camerarius received from Clusius thrived, but eleven years later both tulips were still growing in his garden in Nurnberg  despite the harsh winters. Not all plant exchanges were successful though. The Dutch apothecary Willem Jasperse Parduyn (ca. 1550-1603) informed Clusius in 1596 about the rotten state of most of the plants he had received, among which also the “Tulipa bononiensis” . The Bologna tulip was not only cultivated in northern European gardens but also Italian ones. In 1606, the prefect of the Pisa garden, Franscesco Malocchi, sent to Clusius a list of the garden’s most beautiful plants, among which the “yellow scented Bologna tulip” (“Tulipa Bononiensis lutea odorata”) .Johann Bauhin reported having received the Bologna tulips in Montbeliard, N. France, from Guillelmo Landgravio (probably William IV, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel) and, like Clusius, he also noted the tendency of these tulipsto multiply and spread . The observations of these two rigorous botanists about the vegetative reproduction of T. sylvestris form the earliest evidence of naturalization for this species, a garden escape established today in the wild in many European countries.
Origin Spain: Aranjuez, 1580s?
Together with the Apennine and Narbone tulip, Clusius  grouped also another plant which grew on a hill close to Aranjuez, in central Spain. This “Tulipa Hispanica”was “similar to the Narbone tulip but slightly smaller”. Clusius had not observed this plant during his Spanish travels, nor had he seen its flower, but got the information that the flowers are dark red outside. He recalled that this plant was introduced to Belgium by the gardener Francisco de Hollebeque, a distiller from Mechelen, who became gardener of the royal garden of Aranjuez in 1580 . So it was probably after that year that these Spanish tulips were brought to Belgium. Clusius  noted the difficulty to cultivate this tulip, whose bulbs only gave a single leaf and gradually perished in the Belgian environment.